Category Archives: Middle Grade

Jill Richardson Shares Her Latest Hobbit Companion

Jill Richardson is the author of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World. I wanted toHobbit have her here on the Scribes today, because, for one, I am a Tolkein fan, and two, she brings prizes! But first, let’s find out why she wrote her latest book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World.

Welcome Jill!

Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?

Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I tried first with The Silmarillion and said, “Yeah, right. Don’t think so.” Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien’s skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

Why would teenagers want to read this book?

It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don’t have much in common with real teenagers. But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien’s world, it’s all about tasks and unique callings; it’s about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it? How does that matter to God? How do we learn from both of those things

Describe what the book is about, how it’s organized, and what a reader can expect.

It’s about twenty Tolkien characters, who they are, what makes them do what they do, good or bad, and how that relates to both God and the reader. As far as organization, each character is introduced, quoted, and discussed. Add a relevant Bible passage, discussion/journal questions, and action steps for each person to take going forward. Choose to memorize the short Scripture at the end. A reader can expect to be  both entertained and challenged. I try to have a lot of fun with it, but I don’t shy away from tough questions and applications. Teenagers are capable of asking tough questions. They are more than able to recognize things that need changing. I refuse to talk down to a teenager or make it easy for them. They are intelligent, fun, and up for a challenge, and that’s what I make the book as well.

Describe the process of writing each chapter.

Fun? A lot of fun. But other than that . . . I figured out what really stood out as far as a character trait or lesson for each person. Some were easy—some difficult. Then, where do you see that in the book? It was tough using only one quote! Where do you see that in Scripture? How can a person apply that Scripture to daily life? I tried to be very, very practical and fun while working with serious stuff. I think it worked.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

Sooo hard to answer. I have to say I love Eowyn. I didn’t at first; I thought she was too cold and discontent. But her loyalty and fierce need to do something important—I can so relate to that. Plus, she’s a princess who isn’t afraid to pick up a sword and fight for what matters to her. How cool is that? I love strong female models, since I have three girls.

How could this book help youth leaders disciple kids?

The book takes twenty  character traits everyone can relate to. It pulls that trait out of a Tolkien character and then relates it to the Bible. Can a teen learn about dealing with pride, frustration, or fear from Thorin, Eowyn, or Aragorn? Can she learn to find hope in hopelessness from Arwen? Can he understand how to channel his crazy whims from Pippin? Absolutely—and I have a few national youth leaders, college professors, and authors backing me on that claim!

What’s here they won’t get in the book or the movie?

A relationship between the fandom and the Bible. What is the unique Christian perspective Tolkien wrote with that may not have translated into film? Also, teens can see themselves in these characters when they study them individually. They have take home value.

How do you see teens, parents, and churches using this book?

Of course, it’s a devotional, so I see teens using it for their daily (or sort of daily–I know what it’s like) reading and praying time. Parents and grandparents play a huge role in finding resources for their kids and giving them to them. Parents, youth leaders, grandparents, any caring adults in a kid’s life (and let’s face it, some have so few)–should be seeking out resources to help kids build character. That’s really the point. That it entertains as well—bonus! I can easily see youth leaders using it in a group setting, and I actually have lesson plans for that. Best of all—kids can give it to their friends. The ones who love these movies/books but may not necessarily think about God too much.

Why do you think Tolkien is of such enduring interest to people?

The reasons I mention in question one. People can completely relate to his characters. They are not larger than life—they are us. (Except maybe a wizard or two. They’re a bit larger than we are.) They don’t start out amazing—they grow into it with hard work and love. That’s who we are, or who we should be. And we know that. We feel it. It’s very real. Also, everyone feels intrinsically called to something important. We are constantly seeking that. Some find it—some don”t. But we’re pulled toward stories that speak to that.

Do you really own Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and can you really beat anyone at it?

Short answer—yes. Thought I am a bit rusty. OK, my middle daughter and I are a pretty matched pair. But put the two of us together on a team—yeah, bring it on.

jill portrait webTell me something more about you.

I used to teach high schoolers, and I loved it. Odd enough for you? I truly think they are a great age. I’ve spent ten years working in community theater, performing and directing. I have pictures of me doing so that will never see the light of Facebook. Pink hair, purple tights, giant false eyelashes? Yep, I’ve done it on stage. But—I’m a flaming introvert. Hugely so. I am also a pastor, which is a fun bit of mold breaking as well as serious stuff. I love my three daughters and one husband, manage our three cats, garden on an acre in the western suburbs of Chicago, and love planning our next vacation as soon as we get home form the last one. In fact, my last book before this one was about taking your family on short term mission trips.

Oh, I will be looking for your book on taking your family on short term mission trips, for sure!

Readers, here’s a little more on Jill:

Jill’s love for hobbits and elves comes from her time as a literature  teacher and as a lifelong reader of great stories. She also loves an epic challenge and a chance for grace wherever they exist. Jill has a BA in English and Education and an MDiv in theology and is an ordained minister who has served as a worship, preaching, and discipleship pastor. She has published four books previously, as well as articles in national magazines such as FamilyFun, Discipleship Journal, and Today’s Christian Woman.

Jill enjoys speaking on a variety of topics and has been very active on the MOPS circuit, as well as in junior high and high school classes. She enjoys speaking for retreats for all ages.

With three daughters, three cats, and (thankfully!) only one husband, she keeps busy otherwise with community theater, gardening, reading, scrapbooking, and traveling. Jill loves oceans, cats, chocolate, teenagers, her family, the Cubs, and God, not necessarily in that order.

Jill Richardson contact info:

jillmarierichardson.com

https://www.facebook.com/jillwrites                                

http://jill-theimperfectjourney.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/JillMarieRichar

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World–Amazon buy link. Only $3.00 for the kindle.

Hobbits, Elves, and Dragons More Real Than You Believe 

Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!

Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, Author of The Philosophy of Tolkien has said this about Jill’s book:

“Jill Richardson has done a doubly difficult deed. She has written a book about the Bible and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and she has written a book that both adults and teenagers will enjoy. Her trick is that this is a book that successfully uses Tolkien to understand the Bible instead of a book that unsuccessfully uses the Bible to understand Tolkien.

For another thing, it’s a book for teenagers that most adults will also enjoy, understand, and profit from instead of a book for adults that most teenagers will enjoy, understand, and profit from (which is much more difficult). And it works. It’s both sprightly and profound, funny and serious, full of loving sarcasm and realistic moral truth.”

Some more thoughts from others: 

Author Jill Richardson may well have been born in the Shire, so well does she know the inhabitants of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. But the truths in this book are anything but fantasy. They strike close to the heart where we all have the God-given desire for valorous deeds and new worlds to explore.

Wayne Thomas Batson
, Bestselling Author of The Door Within Trilogy,
The Dark Sea Annals, and GHOST

And now for the prizes!

From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World is a featured book. As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to http://bit.ly/Christian_Books and enter the Rafflecopter (toward the bottom of the page). And be sure and pick up your Kindle version of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World at Amazon.

Book Launch

Emma Right, Inspirational YA/Middle Grade Author Visits

 

 

Today, the Scribes invite Young Adult/Middle Grade Author, Emma Right to tell us aperf6.000x9.000.indd little about her latest inspirational adventure fantasy release, (that is on sale for 99 cents this week only) Keeper of Reign! And below you will see a place to enter to win  a Kindle!

 

But first I sat down with Emma to ask her a few Scribe’s questions to help us to get to know her and to see how she makes her writing a success.

 

So please welcome Emma Right!

 

Emma Tcheau headshotEmma, how do you battle the doubt monster?

 

The problem with life is that the Doubt Monster seeps into every aspect of our lives, right? He’s that negative voice that always tells us all to look at the cup half empty, to focus on the storm, and never on Jesus. And there is my sword. The Lord of my life, Jesus Christ. If I veer my eyes even a tiny fraction away from HIM and at the things I do, I will be defeated even before I start. HE who can turn water into wine, and bring the dead back to life can breathe life into my characters, even on my worse days. And that’s how I overcome all the Doubt Monsters, and there are too many of them around. So, I try to not focus on them, and remember I write for Jesus, I breathe for Jesus, and my stories are for HIM. He will overcome for me. He and His Word–just like my character Jules Blaze who had to realize that he had to go back to the Books to find answers to life, and that he’d been equipped all along to overcome his Enemy–see final chapters of Keeper of Reign 1. 

Well said! I know if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I will persevere. Can you tell us if you have a story you haven’t you told yet?  What is holding you back?

The only thing keeping me back is the lack of time. I have to remind myself that I am a mother first, before I am an author. That’s a hard pill to swallow since I feel I have also been called to write–something I had been resisting for one reason or another all these years. 

Understandable. Being a wife/mother has to come first. I’m glad you’re your family has supported you to allow you to have some time to write.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I’d continue to still tell stories verbally. And then, there’s reading, which I absolutely love to do.

Wonderful! So they say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

I actually have a 300 page manuscript in my drawer/computer. It’s called “No Accident” and is a YA/MG Christian paranormal mystery about a girl who’d moved into a new neighborhood and finds the house revealing things to her about herself. One of these days I’ll find the time to edit it and publish it. Maybe when I am done with Keeper of Reign Book 2 and the new YA psychological thriller series, called “Dead Dreams” I am working on right now.

Look forward to them all! Now, Emma, tell us how do you come up with your shtick?

I try to incorporate some bible nuggets into my stories. They may not be big or obvious facts or revelations, since I am also trying to reach a non-believing reader, or one semi-luke warm Christian, through my books, but I hope to add something in the story that would “shtick” to the reader–something about the Bible or Jesus. Some not-well-known detail, or peculiarity that I hope will nudge the reader into thinking a bit more about the Bible and his/her salvation.

Tell us about the making of your story!

Look about and see something out of place. And ask “What if…” I give you an example…your husband comes home and he seems to be different…how do you really know he’s you husband? ….what if…fill in the blanks here.

Okay, that’s a little freaky. Let’s move on….What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

Wasting time trying to learn to write to get a literary agent. It’s a lesson in courtship, and very tedious. And, I took six months off from writing novels to learn how to sell myself, or rather my novel, to agents. If there was one thing I couldn’t do to save myself, it was to sell anything. So after a while, and bored stiff, I gave up and said, “forget agents, forget publishing houses, I can do this because I have Christ and I am willing to learn.” If I have any time at all to dedicate to my writing I’d rather learn how to craft a better story or read a novel that would help my stories be more exciting and so forth. Besides, in this day and age, an author can hire editors, a designer, and even a book distributor, so the need to find an agent and a traditional publisher isn’t so important like it was ten years ago.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

I absolutely detest the word “I”. Truly, why, may I ask, is “I” capitalized? It is not only troublesome to type–since we always have to capitalize that silly word, and hence waste time–I just feel that capitalizing it just make “I” look so puffed up and makes us focus on, guess who? “I,” of course.

Never thought about it that way! We don’t capitalize “you”. LOL!

What is your junk food of choice?

Cheese burgers, dripping with juice and stuffed with freshly cut onions.

MMMM…What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Rappelling down the bell-shaped 180-foot Moaning Cave–my teenage son’s idea.

Yikes! Not for me, either.  Tell us your guilty pleasure?

Eating toast that has been slathered with butter, then topped with creamy, smooth Nutella. And a cup of latte to go with it.

Mmmmmm…while I imagine that, Readers, enjoy the Keeper of Reign Book1 trailer at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwDNCsXsthIhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQKjBMLnnzE AND REMEMBER Keeper of Reign Book 1 is now 99c till Aug 16  at : http://www.amzn.to/12QkOOU

……………

Kindle Raffle!!

Keeper of reign Book1 is being showcased by the John 3:16 Marketing Network as part of their August Book Launch Event. Be sure to visit  http://bit.ly/Christian_Books for a chance to win a Kindle, a $25 gift card and a $10 Starbucks card, as well as purchase Children of Dreams.

 

Emma Right is a happy wife and Christian homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and His Word deeply, and when she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one.

Emma worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Visit Emma Right at her home site and sign for her blog feed and newsletter @ http://www.emmaright.com and blog for tips and ideas about books, homeschooling, bible devotions, and author helps from self-publishing to book marketing. Follow Emma Right on facebook.com/emma.right.author and “like” her fan page at http://www.facebook.com/keeperofreign for the latest events. Follow Google Plus emmarightbooks, and Twitter @emmbeliever. She’d love to hear from her readers.

KDP Select and My Three FREE Days Experiment.

Hello Scribe’s readers. What a crazy week and a wild ride I’ve had. First, let me thank everyone who either downloaded SAVAGE CINDERELLA or helped spread the word that it was available for FREE for three days last week. And if you missed out, I’ll be using my two remaining “FREE” days at the beginning of June just before I pull the book down from the KDP Select program to upload it to Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. What does all of this mean? This post might be a bit long, but bear with me and I’ll explain.

Kindle Direct Publishing Select program is available to authors who upload their books to Amazon and agree to exclusively sell only on Amazon for a ninety day period of time. I won’t get into all the details of KDP Select since I’ll be covering it in depth soon on Market or Die with Jennifer Fusco and I want to focus this post on the results of the promotion. In short, one of the perks of being in the Select program is the ability to offer the book for free for up to five days during that ninety day period. The benefits of this are numerous. Allow me to share my experience with you.

On Thursday, April 19th, I joined fifteen other children’s, middle grade and YA authors who put all of our books for free for that day only. I used the momentum of that promotion and added two more free days for my book. Thanks to the organizational genius and diligence of our “fearless leader” Stacey Juba, the books were listed on dozens of sites that showcase FREE books. Stacey assigned each of us five sites to contact regarding the promotion. That means at least seventy-five sites potentially carried our free promo. It cost us nothing and was very easy and manageable. I also listed my book on the following FREE Book promotion sites:

E-reader News Today, Indie Book List, Pixel of Ink, Free Kindle Books Today, Your Book Authors.com, and Kindle Nation Daily, most of whom kept my book listed on their front pages for the entire three days. It might interest you to know that I had just come off of a ten-day Blog Hop with seventy-four other authors and had the opportunity to promote the event to the dozens of people who “hopped” by my blog to check it out or leave comments. We implemented a massive tweet and FB campaign as well with our social networks. 

My goals for the FREE promotion were as follows:                                                                                     

1)      Increase visibility/discoverability (Top 100 lists)

2)      Expand my readership/reach new readers

3)      Boost sales

4)      Get more reviews (I had only two reviews, both 5 stars before the promo started. This will become important later.)

I was stunned at the results and I’m still floating on the residual effects. Before I started the FREE days, I was feeling a bit discouraged. January, February, and March sales had climbed steadily and I half expected April to continue to climb since I had just released SAVAGE CINDERELLA (SC) in mid-March, thereby expanding my backlist, which should, theoretically increase the sales of all of my books. Not so much. Truth be told, April brought on a big fat stall in sales and I hadn’t sold a book in three days. As of April 18th I had sold 11 copies of SC on Amazon for the month. My Amazon ranking was somewhere around 80,000. Pitiful, I know! Sales of ON THIN ICE have consistently been good and I was at 58 sales for April. Not bad, but not nearly as good as the previous three months.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up on April 19th (three hours into the promotion) to 57 downloads and a ranking of 7,842 in the Kindle  Free Store. I watched throughout the day and was mesmerized as I saw the numbers soar. By midnight that night, I had 4,954 downloads and was #89 on the Free Kindle Books list. I’d broken into the TOP 100 list that would gain me the exposure I was looking for.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow of the numbers over the next few days, but by the time the promotion was over on Sunday morning, SC had 26,688 US downloads, 1,031 in the UK, 76 in Germany, 6 in France, and 1 in Spain (my first Spanish reader!) My book was #7 in the Kindle Free Store. There are other lists that are important to note here. Books are categorized into many sub genres when you list your book on Amazon. Authors get to pick these categories so it’s important to choose wisely. SC stayed in the #1 slot in my categories for the full three days.

The only downside I discovered is that I’ve gotten a few less than stellar reviews which has lowered my starred ranking from a lovely 5 star average to 3.8 stars. This is not an uncommon occurrence according to many indie authors who believe that this is due to the large cross section of readers who may not, in fact ,enjoy the genre but download anything FREE. There is also the belief that anything FREE is of lesser quality and value. 

The upside is that I met all of my goals and exceeded my expectations. Since the promotion ended on Sunday, I’ve sold 120 copies of SC with 45 borrows (for which I will be paid 2.04 each), and 30 copies of ON THIN ICE. HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES has sadly fallen off the radar with only 13 sales this month, and will have its own promotional resuscitation very soon. These are my current stats in the Kindle Paid Store as well as in my categories:

 Overall, a resounding success! It’s likely that the numbers will settle down again over the next days or weeks, but the boost has been encouraging and I am absolutely thrilled with reaching 28,000 potential readers. You couldn’t buy that kind of exposure and it really cost me nothing but a little time and effort. As always, thanks to all of you who continue to support my efforts and make this crazy ride such a blast to share.

 Questions? Comments? Do you appreciate FREE books as much as books you’ve paid for? I’m curious to know.

 

What is Middle Grade?

Hidey-Ho Scriblers – J Monkeys here.  How are ya?  I’ve been thinking about my Livingston-Wexford Series lately as I’m gearing up to start writing the 3rd book in the series.  It really is a Middle Grade series because it is at its heart a quest story, an adventure for the 14-year old main characters.  The series deals with some potentially dark issues (the main characters’ entire families seem to have been slaughtered by dark forces pretty much unknown) but that happens off-screen (at least so far).  The series doesn’t tackle gritty YA issues of sex, drugs and eating disorders.  But Middle Grade is so wide a genre, that I don’t want my books to get lost.

Consider this.  The following books are all in the Middle Grade genre:

  • The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
  • Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys
  • Charlotte’s Web by EB White
  • JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books
  • The 39 Clues series
  • Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and the Kane Chronicles
  • CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer
a page from Captain Underpants

Here’s the problem. Captain Underpants is a great series for kids in grade 2-4. It’s very engaging and funny with wonderful pictures on every page.  It has a straightforward story with few if any subplots.  It’s a Middle Grade Book.

The 39 Clues series is for kids 8-12 years old.  That’s 2nd-6th graders.  It’s a fast paced adventure series where kids travel the globe on a quest to win their late grandmother’s estate.  All their relatives are trying to kill them.  It might be a little dark for an 8 year old, in my opinion, but hey, I’m not your kid’s parent.  It does have a lot of great history and geography in the series.  Each book is pretty straight forward, there aren’t a lot of subplots, but there is an arc that holds the series together.  It’s a Middle Grade series.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is intended for kids in grade’s 4 and up.   We all know that series get’s pretty dark, and the books get pretty thick.  The subplots are complicated enough to have spawned a zillion websites.  It’s also considered a Middle Grade book.

The Enola Holmes Mysteries are fun, quirky mysteries where Sherlock Holmes younger sister is solving crimes and avoiding capture by her brothers in Victorian England.  It’s also a Middle Grade series intended for kids in grades 4-6. 

Here’s a sample paragraph from page 43 of The Case of The Gypsy Good-bye:

“This modern metropolitan dungeon was not only chokingly dense and shadowy, but also dank and dripping.  The tunnel was even darker, and I had no lantern.  Still, that must be the way she had gone…confound my own daring, which might one day be the death of me.  As a child, I had always been the kind to cross a river not by walking on the bridge, but by balancing atop its balustrade.”

The whole series is written in lyrical, but somewhat complicated, language/grammatical structure.  And there were a number of words that I had to look up…pulchritude for example.  It means beauty or comeliness.

When you compare one end of the Middle Grade spectrum (Captain Underpants) with the other (Enola Holmes) it’s hard to imagine that they could be classified in the same genre.   Nancy Springer’s style of writing alone almost makes the series Adult Literary Fiction, in my opinion.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a wonderful series.  I just can’t imagine that I would have understood much of it when I was eleven.

So what am I to do with my books?  I’ve been calling them a ‘Tween Adventure series with elements of the paranormal.  That’s quite a mouthful, I know.  But I want to appeal to twelve-year olds.  Do you remember being twelve?  I wouldn’t have been caught dead with a little kid’s book like Captain Underpants when I was twelve.   Today’s ‘tweens are even more status conscious than ever.  I guess I’ll stick with ‘Tween Adventure and hope it takes the world by storm.

Today’s secret: if you don’t like the genre your book fits into and you are Indie Published –  make up your own genre name.  If you are confident enough about it, hopefully people will assume you know what you are talking about and maybe it’ll catch on.

Today’s question: what’s your favorite genre?

I Dream of a Miracle

Hello, everybody. Suze here filling in for Viv.  For all of you New Englanders currently without power (and that includes me and most of the Scribes), here’s hoping you get your juice back soon!  Start worshipping the Electricity Goddess, wouldja? (I’d give my queendom for a hot shower!)  The storm has thrown us all a bit of a curve, so we’re switching up.  Viv will be back next week, but in the meantime we’re running this vintage post of J‘s.  With all this cold and snow, and hockey season approaching, read on! 

This post is inspired by a movie: Miracle, starring Kurt Russell (dreamy even in appalling 1979 plaid pants) is a movie about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team.  Have you seen it?  If not, rent it! 

He's cute here, but keep reading!

Now I was not quite 10 years old in February of 1980 and I lived in a house of women.  We were not sports fans – at all.  We certainly were not fans of a brutal sport like hockey.  Tales of this famous team came to me in an odd fashion.  I had a boss back in the early 1990’s who was a small man with a HUGE personality.  I didn’t know much about him personally, but I did know that he played hockey in his spare time.  On his office wall, he had a big, framed picture of a hockey team.  I once asked him if that was his team.  His jaw dropped and he looked at me as if I had just asked him if a picture of Bob Marley was Jimmy Hendrix (this actually happened to me in college – I wasn’t very worldly in the 1990’s).  You know the look, the one where you are talking to someone and you say something and they wonder if you might be from another planet all together.  Or how you’ve lived this long with your head buried in the sand.  I used to get that look a lot. 

Suze prefers Kurt Russell in Bad Boy, Rather than Bad Haircut, Mode
Anyway, Brian The Boss said in a gentle voice suitable for calming skittish horses, “No, that’s the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team.  They beat the Russians…”  OK, so I might be giving away the ending of the movie here, but it’s kinda like the end of Titanic – you know going into it that the boat is gonna sink.

So, until Miracle came out, I didn’t know anything more about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team.  But I’ve seen it several times recently.  In 1980 (big cold war days filled with troublesome happenings in the US including Iranian hostages, high gas prices and a bad economy) the Soviet hockey team hadn’t been beaten in 20 years and had spanked the US NHL All Star team regularly.  A bunch of 21-year-old kids from rival hockey towns worked harder to build a team than anybody thought was possible.  They had a goal and they wanted it badly.  They didn’t let the nay-sayers, and there were lots of them, get in their way.  They identified the strengths of their opponents and worked to take on those qualities themselves.  They ran drill after drill after drill and practiced play after play.  They stayed focused and fought to achieve their dream.

Does any of this seem familiar to you?  It does to me.  I want to be a best-selling author and I want it badly.  For most people this is an impossible dream.  But, I’m willing to work hard to get it.  I will write the stories I want to write.  I’ll become a marketing expert to push my books out there.  And a publishing expert, as well.  I’ll make my way down every avenue I can find to reach my dream.  I will ignore the nay-sayers and focus on my goals.  And when I beat my personal Soviets to join the Stephenie Meyers, Mary Pope Osbornes and Rick Riordans of the world, I will take a moment to enjoy my reflection in the gold medal achievement.   That’s today’s secret.

What’s your dream?