Children’s Illustrated Books

I have joined 28 authors to promote the Children’s Books and Art on Book Funnel. Check them out to find some fun and delightful books for your kids, grandkids, or relatives.

Click the link to browse. I hope you’ll find some interesting books.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/moreillustratedbooks/rrevjw42o3

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If you’re interested in promoting your children’s books, here is the link for the sales promotion. There are other promotions also on the left panel of this page.

https://dashboard.bookfunnel.com/bundles/board/hbxp5c30k5

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National Poetry Month – Songs of Heartstrings by Miriam Hurdle #BookReview @mhurdle112

I’m over at Carla’s blog of Carla Loves to Read. She read my poetry collection and posted a wonderful review. Carla and I have teaching and school administration in common. She is a retired elementary school principal/teacher/teacher-librarian. She blogs about book reviews, reading challenges, adults’ and children’s books, and a lot more. Please head over to read her post and browse around her beautiful blog with different features.

Carla Loves To Read

I took several weeks to enjoy this book of poems. I enjoyed them and wanted time to ponder them, not rush through them. Miriam Hurdle is a blogger I follow who shares wonderful photographs, poetry and snapshots into her life among other things. I enjoy her blog and wanted to read her book. I was not disappointed.

Songs of Heartstrings byMiriam Hurdle

Published October 31st 2018 by KDP

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The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd – Recap

During the New Release Tour last week, I shared a segment of The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd on each day. Even though I had produced children’s literature as a full-time job in the past, making this book was the first time I orchestrated the entire production by myself with online services along the process. It was an adventure and a valuable experience. I recorded when and how things were done and documented it each step of the way. When I planned for the book release tour, I wanted to share something about the book with you. By the time I finished preparing, it covered the writing, editing, illustrating, formatting, and publishing.

My wonderful hosts not only hosting the tour but also reviewing the book. I’m so grateful for your tremendous support. Many of you had followed along the tour to cheer on. Some of you related your experiences about being lost as a child or losing your child briefly when he/she was a kid. I shared with you I got lost in a cathedral on a Spain tour a few years ago. Every tour group looked the same to me. I was afraid that they left without me. Fortunately, I spotted my 6’4″ husband and hurried to rejoin the group, pretending nothing had happened.

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I would like to share with you this recap of the seven parts of Tina Lost in a Crowd with an introduction.

Why I Write Children’s Book?

My experience of writing the children’s books was when, at age 26, I worked in Hong Kong as the Director of Children’s Department at Asian Outreach, which was a Christian literature publication company. They hired me to design and write children’s magazine for the fourth to sixth grades students. I modeled after a well-established local children’s magazine and wrote stories with Christian values.

This was the process we went through to publish the children’s magazines:

It was exciting to see my first magazine in print coming back to our office. I published four children’s magazines before leaving the office to come to the US.

The experience of working at the Asian Outreach was a great asset to my current publication of the children’s books.

The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd

Part 1 – When Did I Write the Tina Lost in a Crowd?

In 2006, I took an online writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature for a year. An instructor corresponded with me to provide feedback and suggestions on my assignments and revisions. The Institute also provided the marketing tools and an annual catalogue of 800 magazines accepting submissions. The goal of the course was to have my essays published.

The Institute suggested the children’s literature writers to observe the children. If the writers were not teachers or adults with young children at home, they could volunteer at the organizations such as library or Boy/Girl Scouts to get a first-hand experience to understand their behaviors and language.

At the time of taking the writing course, my interaction with the elementary school students was still fresh in my mind.

There were many fun memories of activities with my daughter, Mercy. I combined one story about Mercy, my understanding of the children’s behaviors, and the writing skills to write my first assignment entitled “Tina Goes to Hollywood Bowl.”

I kept the stories written during this course in a folder for many years. Early in year 2020, during the lockdown, I revised the Tina story to prepare for publication.

Part 2 – The Story Behind the Story Tina Lost in a Crowd

The story of Tina Lost in a Crowd is partly based on fact. When my daughter Mercy was eight years old, my sister Yolanda, her husband Patrick, and their son Enoch, who was Mercy’s age, came from Hong Kong to visit us. We took them on tours in northern and southern California. One activity was going to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. I drove the five of us to Rowland Heights Regional Park, then we took the Park & Ride bus to the Hollywood Bowl.

The sky was dark with bright stars when the concert started. Mercy and Enoch swayed side to side when they listened to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and smiled at each other. During the intermission, Patrick left his seat to buy some popcorn. Mercy and Enoch wanted to use the restroom. Yolanda and I urged them to catch up with Patrick.

Later, when Patrick came back without them, I panicked. Imagine losing 8-year-old kids in a crowd of 18,000 people. How would I find them? Yolanda and Patrick stayed in their seats while

I followed the descending steps between the sections of seats to where I thought they could had gone.

I found them standing against a wall! It was such a relief, but I was curious about what made them stand there. “Were you scared?” I asked them.

“Not too scared,” Mercy said, “I learned from the Girl Scouts that if I get lost, I should stay at one spot to wait for the adults to find me.”

This was one of my fondest memories. I asked Mercy, “Should I write a story about this experience?” She answered me with no hesitance, “Of course!”

Part 3 – The Ideas and Messages of the Story

Did you like Aesop’s Fables? I did when I was a child. When I read them to my students, they would shout with me at the end of the fable “the moral of the lesson is…”

Other than Aesop’s Fable, most of the children’s books don’t spell out the lessons. In fact, even when the story has a message for children, it doesn’t need to make it loud and clear. The children are reading the story to have fun.

There are ideas and messages in Tina Lost in a Crowd: Tina took part in decision making for the summer activities such as swimming and a sleepover. She asked permission to invite her friend to go to the concert. She made a right decision when she and Erica got lost in a crowd, which was a safety issue.

Children are smart, they read for fun, and they learn the messages on their own term. It would be interesting to have a discussion with the children after they read a book.

Part 4 – Fine Tuning the Text for a Read-Aloud Book

When I revisited the Tina story, I wanted to do a picture book for easy readers of age five to nine. My research shows the word count for this grade-level range is 50-2,500 words. The final word count for this book is 2,000 words.

Tina Lost in a Crowd is a dialogue-based story. I used dialogue to show the plot, the relationship between all the characters, the actions, and emotions of the speakers.

Writers write picture books in a series of scenes, and each of which can be illustrated. Initially, I divided the content into sixteen scenes for the illustration, and the final story has twenty scenes. In this book, the text coordinates with the illustration. In fact, I wrote detailed descriptions to my illustrator so that even the gestures of the characters reflect the content. For instance, the character points at the sky in the illustration, and the text says: “Look at the stars…”. When reading the story, the readers can also refer to the details of the illustration.

The main character, Tina, finished third grade going to fourth grade. I remember my third-grade students with different reading levels. Among the third-grade students, there are easy to advance readers. Many of my students at this grade level still read picture books. According to grade level standards, they should have mastered the skills of “learning to read” and ready for “reading to learn” in the upper grades. Many third-grade students would find fun reading this book with perhaps a couple unfamiliar words such as Tchaikovsky and silhouette.

When I sent the manuscript to my editor, I let her know this book is for “reading to” and “reading with” children by the adults, as well as “reading by” the children independently. The flow of the text is good for a read-aloud book.

Part 5 – Finding an Illustrator

I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). On one blog post, it featured an illustrator and her work. I liked the style of her artworks, so I contacted her and got an idea of how much she would charge for the number of pages in my book and how long it would take to complete the job.

Some blogging friends recommended some websites with illustration services, and I checked them out. The illustrators charged by hours. They didn’t have a portfolio with sample artworks, so I couldn’t tell if I liked their style.

After much search and consideration, my decision was to search for an illustrator on fiverr.com. I could see the services they provide and their sample work. Some would provide limited, and some unlimited revisions.

I do watercolor painting and wish to illustrate my book, but I don’t do portrait painting. There are thousands of gigs out there, and it would take forever to scroll through all the pages to find one. I narrowed it down to watercolor, and children’s illustration, and got 660 services. It took me six months to find one I liked. I paid for one sample page and when I ordered the rest, it became part of my entire book.

After I accepted the sample page, I sent the story summary and the description of each page to her. Usually, she sent me a few sketches at a time. I gave her my feedback and suggestions. She revised them and sent them to me. Sometimes I respected her creativity and approved them. But if they didn’t correspond with the story, I asked for revisions until they were done to my satisfaction. It was a pleasant experience working with Victoria Skakandi.

Part 6 – Formatting a Picture Book, Illustrated Children’s Book

There are boxes of children’s books in the storage from my teaching days. I picked about ten books to study how they positioned the images and text. Some have bleed (the images flow over to the margin) and some without bleed. Some pages have text without images, and some have text layered over the images. My conclusion was to have the book fully illustrated with bleed, and have the text inserted over the images.

Formatting a picture book with bleed is a different story than without bleed. So, I hired a designer to do the job. He could insert the text for me, but I had a preference of the appearance.

After I received the pages of illustration from Victoria, I inserted one layer of white rectangular shape with round corner, then inserted another layer of text over the shape.

When I finished inserting the text, I created a file with the pages in a correct sequence for the designer to use as a reference. Then I sent this reference file and all the pages of the illustration to him to format for eBook and print book according to the requirements of Amazon and Barns & Nobel.

Note: I skipped many technical details. I can answer your questions if you’re interested.

Part 7 – Publish the Book on Amazon and Barns & Nobles

Amazon and Nobles have different formatting guidelines to publish the books. I would have been happy to have the book on Amazon alone. But I wanted to have a hardcover version. It’s good to have a hardcover version for young children, for the school libraries and public libraries. Personally, I wanted to have a hardcover version of this book.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) only has eBook and paperback, doesn’t have the option to publish hardcover books. Barns & Nobles has eBook, paperback, and hardcover. For this reason, I published the eBook and paperback on Amazon, and eBook and hardcover on Barns & Nobles. I may inquire if the local B&N would carry my book.

Will I Write More Children’s Book?

As I mentioned on the first day of this Book Tour that I took a writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature and wrote many stories. Tina Lost in a Crowd was the first story I revised and published. There are several stories based on my daughter Mercy’s activities as a child. I’ll revise them as the “Tina” stories.

There were other children’s stories in my folder, as well as new ideas for the children’s books. I’ll keep these options open.

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Thank you for reading this recap.

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Smorgasbord #Children’s Reading Room – Book #Review – Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam H. Hurdle

I’m excited that Sally Cronin features Tina Lost in a Crowd in her Children’s Reading Room with a fabulous review. Please head over to visit this post. While you’re there, browse around her other magazine features on nutrition, music, humor and a lot more.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Miriam Hurdlehas been on the shelves of the main Cafe and Bookstore for some years but now adds her new book Tina Lost in a Crowd to the shelves of the Children’s Reading Room.

About the book

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children…

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Tina Lost in a Crowd – Join Diana P. Wallace on the Last Day of Tour

Diana P. Wallace is the host for the last day of Tina Lost in a Crowd new release tour. Please join her to conclude the tour with a huge party.

I want to thank the amazing hosts kicking off my debut children’s book with tremendous energy and excitement. It was fun to converse with the blogging friends in this supportive community. I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Robbie Cheadle, Pete Springer, Better A. Stevens, Denise L. Finn, Balroop Singh, Jacqui Murray, Jan Sikes, Teri Polen, Yvette Calleiro, Majorie Mallon, and Diana P. Wallace. Each one of them not only hosted the tour but also reviewed and recommended the book.

Special thanks goes to Sally Cronin for welcoming Tina Lost in a Crowd to her Children’s Reading Room.

Comments on this post are closed. I’ll see you at the the hosts’ blogs.

Amazon US

Amazon UK (for eBook, go to Amazon US)

Barns and Noble

Tour Dates and Hosts

Please visit them to cheer on. I love to have your support and see you there.

Monday, April 19, 2021 – Robbie Cheadle, Robbie’s Inspiration

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 – Pete Springer, Pete Springer Author

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 – Bette A. Stevens, Writers and Readers

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 – Denise Finn, Author D.L. Finn

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 – Balroop Singh, Emotional Shadows

Thursday, April 22, 2021 – Jacqui Murray, Word Dream

Thursday April 22, 2021 – Sally Cronin, Smorgasbord Blog Magazine, Children’s Reading Room

Friday, April 23, 2021 – Jan Sikes, Writing and Music

Friday, April 23, 2021 – Teri Polen, Books and Such

Saturday, April 24, 2021 – Yvette Calleiro, Yvette M. Calleiro

Saturday, April 24, 2021 – Majorie Mallon, Kyrosmagica Publishing

Sunday, April 25, 2021 – Diana Peach Wallace, Myths of Mirror

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Check out this sample illustration of Tina Lost in a Crowd.

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April Children’s Book Reviews @BookTrib

I became a member of the BookTrib Children’s Book Network beginning this year. Each month the members receive a “Booster Box” with several children’s books to read and share on the social media network. I received my first package of books in March, and read then posted reviews on Amazon and Twitter.

Where, Oh Where, Is Barnaby Bear? by Wendy Rouillard

This board book has beautiful and colorful illustrations. The bright and definite contrasting colors are appealing to the toddlers. The sentences are from three to ten words, easy for the little ones to follow along.

Barnaby’s friends were searching for him while he is on an adventure. They wonder if he is in a balloon or has flown to the moon, is he down by the sea, or has gone out to tea. At the end, they found him in his cozy bed with his sleepy head.

The toddlers would love the rhymes and would read along with the adults.

Amazon Twitter

The Colorless Chameleon | A Picture Book For Young Readers 4-8 | Can Chameleon Find Her Voice and Stand Up for What She Wants? | Kids Relate to Her Desire to be Heard and Understood by [Hayley Irvin, Rachel Bostick, Cassidy Reynolds, Samantha   Jo Phan]

The Colorless Chameleon by Hayley Irvin

Chameleon was a colorful lizard. She greeted her jungle friends with her vibrant colors. One day, the animals were preparing a party, her friends liked her colors and wanted to have them. The elephant took her blue before she agreed to it; the lemur took her red, and the crocodile took her yellow. Before long, she h.ad no colors left and no way to express herself. When her thoughtful friend flamingo asked how she was doing, she had no voice because her colors were gone with the colors. Flamingo asked if she were going to the party, she finally could shout, “No.” After they talked, Chameleon went to her friends who took her colors and asked them to return the colors to her. They were not happy about it but agreed to do so. Chameleon was her happy self again.

This hardcover book has beautiful illustrations with eye pleasing colors. It’s a delightful book for young children to read and learn to stand up for themselves.

Amazon Twitter

The Tale of Ferdinand Frog by [Mark Hughes]

The Tale of Ferdinand Frog by Mark Hughes

This book has three parts, The Problem, The Quest, and The Answer. The length and the word count of the book appear to be a chapter book.

The story is about Ferdinand Frog who was in love with Felicity Fogmore-Frog. Ferdinand’s friend, Wrinkleskin Rat, came to tell him that the evil snake, Samuel, wanted to win Felicity’s heart even though Felicity’s parents disliked Samuel the snake. Wrinkleskin Rat suggested seeing the wisdom and help from Osmiroid Owl. Two of them traveled miles deep into the wood and got frightened. They were rescued by Endroglen Eagle. They finally met Osmiroid Owl, who advised Ferdinand that with love, he could overcome the evil of the snake.

The text and the gorgeous illustrations are on the alternate pages. The lovely rhyming words read like poetry and song lyrics.

Amazon Twitter

Banana Fun Bread by [LEAR RIOJAS Illustrations by Chrissie Vales, Chrissie Vales]

Banana Fun Bread by LEAR RIOJAS Illustrations by Chrissie Vales

Banana Fun Bread is about a little boy, Fred chasing his imaginary banana bread everywhere. The rhyming words would appeal to little ones from baby to toddler. Sentences are easy for these kids to understand, such as:

“One loaf, two loaf, come back three, why do you run away from me?

Who, who, who are you? Don’t you know it’s too late for you?”

The illustrations are in pastel colors with cute expressions.

Amazon Twitter

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If you’re interested in receiving free children’s book, please check out the website BookTrib Children’s Book Network for more information.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #144 – Baby Birds Taking Flight

This week, Tina would like us to think of the idea of flying. It could be any flying objects such as birds, butterflies, bees, insects, airplanes, balloons, or kites. I have many bird stories to tell, so I chose to share about the baby birds in my garden taking flights.

I started watching and feeding birds in 2014. Over the years, there were mourning doves, house finches and hummingbird gave birth to their babies. I was fortunate to watch these amazing creatures laid eggs, nurtured their young, guarded them until they took flight.

In 2016, I noticed two mourning doves were courting and mating. This pair built their nest in a tree, but the eggs were stolen. I suspected it was the naughty squirrel. The female dove seemed depressed and was motionless, sitting in the grass for over 20 minutes. The male dove was sitting still two feet from her. Only after she got up and stretched that he also stood up. I was sad for them, but it was beautiful watching these doves mourned for their loss.

In 2017, the same pair of doves built a nest on the top of the stone windowsill under the eaves in the front yard. I thought it was the same pair because the male dove had a ring around one leg, same as the dove in the previous year. Probably someone tried to track him. They built the nest together. She laid two eggs. They took turns incubating the eggs. My research showed that mourning doves are monogamous. The male and female look so much alike, and it seems only the female incubates but in fact they switch shifts. In 2020 I noticed them switching shifts.

The mourning doves used the nest the house finches built on the trellis in 2015 and have used that in 2017, 2018, twice in 2019, and 2020. When the baby doves were ready to fly, they were as big as mature doves.

In 2015, the house finches built a nest on the top tier of the trellis at the front porch. The female bird laid four eggs but sadly the eggs were gone. I had no idea what happened. I have kept the nest clean and strapped a piece of chicken wire to hold the bottom of the nest. The house finches returned to the same nest in 2016, she laid three eggs and four baby birds were hatched. I didn’t see the baby birds flying away. The house finches didn’t use the nest after that.

I’m fortunate to have a baby ruby-throated hummingbird born in my garden in 2018. The nest is like a cheese ball the size of a golf ball. When my husband trimmed the orange tree, without knowing it, he barely missed that branch. When I noticed that cheese ball, I climbed up the ladder to look. Somehow, I touched the nest and scared the baby to fall on the ground. I was more scared than he and quickly picked him up to put him back in the nest. When the baby was ready to leave the nest, he flew to the next tree, clung on to it for a little while before he took off.

All these amazing birds, by the time the babies are ready to leave the nests, they are ready to fly. I wonder if they’ll see their parents again. Amazingly, the baby hummingbird stays. He has been living in my garden since he was born. I’m sorry to say the papa bird died last year. My husband found him on the grass. He was at least four years old. Mama bird doesn’t live here, but she comes by to play with the baby. I think he has a brother that comes by occasionally.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #144 – Baby Birds Taking Flight

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Magical Whispers by Balroop Singh – A Book Review

April is National Poetry Month. It is my pleasure to review Magical Whispers by Balroop Singh, a talented fellow poet.

Magical Whispers: Poetry by [Balroop Singh]

Blurb

I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.
‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.

In this book, my poems focus on the whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.
Each day reminds us
It’s the symphony of surroundings
That whispers life into us.

My Review

Magical Whispers is an aesthetic poetry collection. Ms. Singh weaves the softest whispers of her words into dreamy tranquility. The poems in the first section Magical Whispers reflect on the nature that evokes the heart, the mind, and the senses. Many poems have the subject of water such as the lake, the waves, the pool, the stream, and the waterfalls that convey a soothing sensation. The poems in the second section Whispers of Life reflect on the self, the love, the heartache, the hopes, dreams, fears, and the memories. Ms. Singh submerges herself in nature and sees the beauty beyond appearance. She ponders upon the hidden treasures and finds hope in the puzzle of life. The poems are inspiring to many poetry lovers.

My favorite two stanzas in “Dwindling Pool”are:

When did the magic fade?

Did it vanish with the pool fairy?

Or apathy and human avarice

Devour its exquisite grandeur?

Depleted oasis ebbing away

Reflections gather to ponder

 Confabulations grow grim

Shimmer of sun waning at the horizon

My favorite stanza in “An Escape” is:

She woke up with a fright

Shuddered at the light

That filtered through the leaves

Offering a velvety delight.

My Amazon and Goodreads Rating: 5.0 out of 5 stars

An image posted by the author.

About Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh, an educationalist, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will! The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in San Ramon California.

Website: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340810.Balroop_Singh

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BalroopShado

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/balroop.singh1

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #143 – Colorful April, National Poetry Month

This week, for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Amy invited us to look at the colorful April that spring brings us. Every year, the cold of winter melts away and spring brings a new beginning.

April is National Poetry Month. I’ll include a poem “A Light Exists in Spring” by Emily Dickinson.

Every year, the cold of winter melts away and spring brings a new beginning. The nature and the creatures wake up from their hibernation, stretch the limbs and pop the heads up to give us a big smile.

The flowers in my garden invited me to give them a visit.

When I take my afternoon walk, the vibrant colors stopped me more and more frequently to capture their beauty.

I’m grateful for living in a community with the walking/hiking/horse trails snake through the cities. These trails are in the neighborhood yet they seem to be away from the distractions of voices and noises.

A Light exists in Spring
by Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Written in around 1864 but not published until 1896 (as with many of Dickinson’s poems), ‘A Light Exists in Spring’ beautifully captures the way that spring slowly appears in our consciousness, like a light in the distance. The final stanza of Dickinson’s poem also seems to acknowledge what we now call ‘SAD’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the passing of spring affecting our contentedness.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #143 – Colorful April

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Tina Lost in a Crowd – #3 on Amazon Hot New Releases

I woke up with this exciting news. My debut children’s eBook Tina Lost in a Crowd was #3, then #2 and now is #1 on the Amazon Hot New Releases! It’s from #50 to #22 on the Top 100 Paid Best Sellers. Thank you for your pre-order (I think the pre-order counts)!

I just received the proof copy of the paperback from Amazon. It looks good. It’ll be ready for purchasing on April 15.

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