Pep Talks for Writers

Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost your Creative Mojo


Pep Talks for Writers

Facing  a blank page can be intimidating to even the most seasoned and prolific writers.

Have you questioned the existence of the muse or wondered how your mojo escaped?

If so, you may need a pep talk and Grant Faulkner has written just the book to give you that little something to get you writing again.

It is a book to read straight through or have on your desk to refer to in moments of panic.

Pep Talks for Writers is 52 short chapters of insight, encouragement and candor from the executive director of NaNoWriMo and cofounder of 100 Word Story.

Writing 50,000 words in November, or a complete story in exactly 100 words and everything in between, Grant brings his experiences together to give us all the courage to face our fears. He sums up the book in a simple review:

You are a creator.


But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

The next 52 weeks of pep talks may help us solve this problem.

Next week pep talk # 1 for writers: You don’t need permission to be a creator.


Grant Faulkner is also published in The Southwest Review, PANK, Poets & Writers, The Berkeley Review, Word Riot and Gargoyle.



LISACBLACK.COM Launches Parent and Community Awareness Program with Read Aloud 15 MINUTES – What would U.S. education look like if every child were read aloud to for 15 minutes every day?

For Immediate Release: June 29, 2017

This unprecedented effort will unite diverse groups that touch the lives of children from birth to age 8 under its single, powerful message – Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. Every child. Every parent. Every day.

Read Aloud 15 MINUTES’ goal is to have every child being read aloud to by a parent or loved one for 15 minutes every day starting at birth. The decade-long 15 MINUTES Movement will be a massive public awareness effort, spearheaded by partners in cities throughout the nation that will rally grassroots support through local awareness efforts and community outreach.

“We want to change social norms,” says co-founder Dr. Candace Kendle. “We want to see reading aloud every day for 15 minutes become one of the essential routines of child care, as normal as daily tooth brushing.”

“The response we’ve had at the local level has been amazing,” says Executive Director and co-founder Bob Robbins. “Businesses, teachers, librarians, health care workers … they all recognize the importance of what we’re trying to do, and they’re all drawn to our simple, but powerful message. We are excited to help parents with young children throughout Florida join our growing league of academic scholars, business leaders, government officials, day care workers, teachers, community workers, parents, and friends who are working to make reading aloud for 15 minutes every day, starting at birth, a parenting standard. Together, we will help more children begin kindergarten ready to learn, get the most out of their education, and become productive citizens.”

Read Aloud partners are united behind the idea that 15 minutes of daily reading aloud from birth to age 8 can change the face of education, nationally.

According to Read Aloud:

• Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning.
• Nationally, 37% of children arrive in kindergarten without the skills necessary to begin their learning journey.
• If a child is not reading at grade level by the end of the first grade, then there is an 88% probability the child will not be reading at grade level by the end of the fourth grade.
• Even in higher-income households, nearly 40% of families do not read aloud every day.
• More than half the children in this country – 13 million children – will not hear a bedtime story tonight.

About Read Aloud
Read Aloud 15 MINUTES is a non-profit organization that is working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care. When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.

For more information, visit:

How to Read Aloud to Your Child

How to Read Aloud to Your Child

Reading aloud to children

One of the best things you can do is read aloud to your child.

Younger children are learning vocabulary and a love of books.

Older children who can already read still love to be read to.

Reading Aloud to Children

Tips on how to read aloud to your child:

Try to set a regular time for reading. Reading books is a great way to establish a bedtime routine.

Read in a quiet comfortable place away from the TV.

Select a book you will enjoy so it is a pleasant experience for both of you.

Point out the cover illustrations and the author’s and illustrator’s names.

Read with expression bringing the characters to life.

Read slowly so your child can take in the words and enjoy the illustrations.

Encourage questions.

Take a break if your child’s attention begins to wander.

Talk about the book afterward and encourage your child to retell the story in their own words.

Have fun in 15 minutes!

To learn more about the benefits of reading aloud and to download Read Aloud 15 Minute posters go to
read aloud to your child

Read Aloud 15 Minutes

Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Child

benefits of reading aloud to your child

Parents often ask:

When should I begin reading aloud to my child?
Where is the best place to read aloud?
When is the best time to read aloud?


15 Read Aloud Tips for Babies and Toddlers was created in partnership with First Book: a collection of 15 books that are wonderful for reading aloud with very young children.

You can sign up to get new books, for free and at low cost at:

Dinosaur vs. The Potty
Your Personal Penguin
Freight Train
Pat the Bunny
Yummy Yucky
Knuffle Bunny
Happy Baby Words
Kitten’s First Full Moon
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Good Night, Gorilla
Goodnight Moon
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Harold and the Purple Crayon
The I Love You Book
Hop on Pop

The good news for families is that this advice is easy to follow. Reading aloud to your child requires only a book and your willingness to spend a little quality time with your child.

The sacrifices to read aloud are few while the benefits are many:

Your child may learn to read better, think better, imagine more richly, and become a passionate and lifelong reader.

Some of the benefits are more immediate:

The pleasures of spending time with your child and sharing the enjoyment of a good book.

Happy reading!

When Pumpkins Fly


When you think of pumpkin you may think of pie, but the people in Delaware think of punkin chunkin.

Imagine pumpkins launched from giant slingshots, catapults, trebuchet, centrifugals and air cannons.

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for scholarships and other organizations that benefit youth programs and the local community.

This pumpkin launching event fuels innovative engineering ideas and inspires creativity, ingenuity and teamwork. The competition is held in Bridgeville Delaware in November.

It all started in 1986 in a blacksmith shop owned by John Ellsworth.

John, Trey Melson, Bill Thompson and Donald “Doc” Pepper began experimenting with different methods of Punkin chunkin and the competition was born.

The Machines

Punkin chunkers have a few options when it comes to hurling the squash across the sky.

The air cannons are machines that use compressed air in a tank.

When the constraint holding the air in the tank is removed the air expands back to its normal volume.

The released air acts like a spring and forces the object, in this case pumpkin, through the tube and propels it through the air.

Trebuchets are powered by gravity using a counterweight to swing the object attached to a sling.

Catapults are similar but are powered by springs or rubber bands.

Centrifugals build up force in a circular pattern and release the pumpkin at the optimal trajectory.

Adult and youth teams compete in divisions and are scored for distance.

Each team gets three shots.

One of the most important rules of punkin chunkin is that the pumpkin must remain whole until it hits the ground.

A pumpkin busting in air is called a “pie” and the shot is disqualified.

The distance the team is able to hurl their pumpkins depends on the mass, shape, size and thickness of the pumpkin rind.

Past Winning Distances

The first official punkin chunkin in 1986 was won by a distance of 178 feet and every year since then the winning distance has increased.

In 2013 the team American Chunker Inc. won with a whopping distance of 4,694.68 feet.

What’s next for the sport?

The organization hopes to add the youth 10 and under category in the future.

If sending gourds flying through the air is not for you consider entering the punkin chunkin cooking completion or the chili cook-off.

Both feature one main ingredient, you guessed it, pumpkin!

Punkin chunkin has been a big part of the fall festivities in Delaware for over 20 years.

If you want to learn more about this amazing competition read Pie in the Sky: The Authorized History of Punkin Chunkin’ by Bob Kotowski.

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere
By Smritti Prasadam-Halls
Illustrated by Lorena Alvarez

This bright, colorful picture book is sure to get your young children ready for Halloween. The simple rhymes are fun to read out loud. The illustrations include bats, goblins and ghosts but with the emphasis on pumpkins of all kinds, the book is funny in a non-scary way.

Pumpkins boogie to the beat,
Pumpkins trick and pumpkins treat.
Pumpkin glowing, pumpkin bright,
shining in the starry night.
Pumpkins brave and not afraid
lighting up the BIG PARADE.

It’s Halloween and there are pumpkins EVERYWHERE!

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Parragon Books (June 26, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1474802419
ISBN-13: 978-1474802413
Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

Fire Up Your Writing Brain: A Book Review

Fire Up Your Writing Brain by Susan Reynolds explores the study of neuroscience and teaches you how to develop your brain to its fullest potential. The book is based on proven, easy to understand science and how to apply this knowledge to fire up your brain.

In 12 chapters the author describes:

What your brain can do for you
How to awaken your brain
Identify your writing brain
Reinforce your writing brain
Jumpstart your writing brain
Nurture your writing brain
Fire up your writing brain
Fuel your writing brain
Sustain your writing brain
Reward your writing brain
Call in your executive brain

Each chapter ends with a short quiz to test your powers of knowledge retention. Don’t worry you can’t fail. The author points out that you may want to pay closer attention when you read or do research, pausing occasionally to let thoughts penetrate, or writing down important information. Both of these habits promote more synaptic connections and alert your brain that you want the information stored in your long term memory.

Susan includes a list of 5 things you can do for your brain health today to help you conceive, create and craft stories.

1. Eat food that’s good for body and brain
2. Move your body every day
3. Stimulate your brain
4. Reduce stress
5. Get plenty of sleep

Write to Give Your Brain a Rush

Fifteen to twenty minutes of expressive writing, three to
five times a week has been shown to have positive health
benefits, including long-term improvements in mood, stress
levels, and depressive symptoms. Those who experienced
stressful or traumatic events and wrote about it had fewer
illnesses, lower blood pressure, and spent less time in the
hospital. A 2003 study showed that patients who had biop-
sies and wrote about their experience (twenty minutes a day,
three days in a row, two weeks before the biopsy} healed
faster. Asthma patients who write have fewer attacks; AIDS
patients who write have higher T-cell counts; and cancer
patients who write report more optimistic perspectives and
improved quality of life. Writing in a journal and blogging
results in the release of enough dopamine to create positive
effects similar to the effects of running or listening to music
produces. Moral: Write a blog and give your brain a rush.

Thanks Susan I feel better already.

Read Aloud 15 Minutes


Read 15 Minutes is a non profit organization that is striving to make reading aloud 15 minutes a day to every child 0 to 8 years old, the new standard of child care and parenting.

Why should you read aloud?
Read to your child 15 minutes a day from birth to:

Grow vocabulary and knowledge
Bond with your child
Foster a love of books and learning
Entertain and enlighten
Go to school better prepared

And it is virtually free with a library card!

Light up your child’s brain.

You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Babies learn best through interactions. There is no substitute for you.

Dr. John S. Hutton, pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, author of Sleep Baby Safe and Snug, and children’s bookstore owner has partnered with Read aloud 15 Minutes adding his knowledge, expertise, passion and voice to spread the urgent message.


Visit for more information, downloads and volunteer opportunities.

Summer Reading Book Review

Three Little Words
By Amy Novesky
Illustrated by Grace Lee

Dory the perpetually optimistic and hopeful little blue fish is on the journey of a lifetime.
She must cross the ocean to find her family.

HOORAY! It’s a big day!
You’re off to sea!
You’re on your way!
Wherever you go whatever you do,
don’t forget these three little words…
just keep swimming!
Just keep swimming!
Just keep swimming!

That is just what Dory does when she finds herself alone or at a crossroads.

When she is not sure what to do she just keeps swimming.

Dory makes friends and hitches a ride and if she finds herself alone again she remembers…
don’t give up!
don’t give up!
don’t give up!

She will soon discover dreams do come true.

Award winning illustrator Grace Lee is a storybook artist for Disney and received the Children’s Choice Book Award for Illustrator of the year in 2014.

Every page is beautifully rendered with dreamy watercolors and captivating characters.

Three Little Words is a great story of determination and perseverance for all of us. So no matter what life throws your way, JUST KEEP SWIMMING!

Father’s Day June 19, 2016


School is out for summer and Father’s Day is just around the corner. Stumped on what to give Dad? Wow him with a unique book full of the kids artwork. All those cute projects they bring home from school that you just can’t bear to part with, and end up tucked away in boxes, make a perfect gift.

Ask your kids to pick their favorite master pieces and write a short description or a story. Photograph each piece separately. Now go to and pick your book size, upload your photos and follow the prompts. It’s easy, affordable and Dad will be thankful he didn’t get another tie.