Thursday, January 19, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Being Alone versus Socializing

While observing my eighteen-month-old grandson, I keep learning interesting lessons. Today’s deals with being alone versus socializing.

He now enjoys playing with toys by himself at times. Still, he doesn’t like being left completely alone. His ideal is having time to himself with my wife or me close by. This way he can decide what he wants to do, but has someone to check in with periodically. Then when he’s ready to interact with us, he comes over to indicate he wants a book read to him or would like to build blocks together.
I can identify. I like time to myself but also enjoy socializing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Playing with Cars

Boys and their cars. My seventeen-month-old grandson loves playing with his toy cars. We have a corner of the kitchen where we keep his collection of fifteen toy cars lined up. When he comes over to visit, in addition to books, blocks and empty bottles, cars are on his priority list of items to play with.

But it isn’t just pushing the cars and carrying them around that interests him. There is a step between the kitchen area and the living room. What is more fun that sending the cars careening over the step as if going off a cliff.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Grandson Lessons - The Best Toys

Some people relish expensive toys—cars, boats, airplanes. Kids sometimes buy into the same paradigm by asking for expensive games and toys. I’ve learned from my seventeen-month-old grandson, that you can have just as much fun with an inexpensive toy.

He has an ample supply of toy cars, trucks and airplanes. We have a corner of the kitchen with his collection of cars that he plays with. But another toy location is a cabinet where we keep empty plastic bottles and containers. He entertains himself by taking bottle tops off and putting them back on, carrying an old jar around with him and putting things inside and dumping them out. Kind of like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh with his useful jar to put things in. Our grandson will often abandon the more expensive toys for the simple joy of playing with the bottles and containers.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Grandson Lessons – He’s a Better Dancer than I Am

Being a grandfather to a seventeen-month-old grandson is a humbling experience. Sure, I can speak better than he can, and he hasn’t learned to write or play pickleball yet, but when it comes to dancing, he leaves me in the dust.

When he was less than a year old, we discovered that he loved listening to ABBA music. We’d put the ABBA CD in the player and he’d bounce up and down. Now that he’s walking, he gets into a full fledge dancing act when the music comes on. Me, I can’t carry a beat, but he keeps in time to the music just fine. Now when I follow what he does, I can even feel the beat. Progress.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Grandson Lessons – Looking Forward Not Backward

I continue to learn from our seventeen-month-old grandson. He has a backward facing car seat when riding in our car. He doesn’t like it one little bit. I can distract him for a while with toys, but ultimately this is not his preferred view of the world.

I can identify. Who wants to always watch where they’ve been? I also prefer looking at what’s ahead.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The World of Writing: Good and Bad Reviews

Once a writer makes the transition to an author, i.e., being published, it opens up the world of reviews and reader feedback. Even bestselling authors get one-star reviews, and the most acclaimed works get panned by some readers and reviewers. Why?  Because people have varying likes and dislikes, and no one author can appeal to everyone.

Over my ten years as an author, I’ve experienced the extremes of good and bad comments. Here are a few of the negative reviews:

“The fog level must be pretty lows so I think fourth or fifth graders would like it.” My response—I will endeavor for more sophisticated, pedantic, pedagogic obscurity.

“The author peppered his story with crude, distasteful language.” What the hell?

“Much to do about nothing.” I will work on something.

“So dull you’ll wish your memory reset every few pages.” Yawn.

On the positive side, here are some of my favorite reviews and emails from readers:

A review that speaks of my protagonist Paul Jacobson and his granddaughter, Jennifer: “It’s hard to beat a team that includes a wise-cracking old fart and as straight-talking young sprout.”

“The story’s endearing zaniness keeps boredom at bay.”

“I have read all your books and enjoyed them immensely, but even more fun was listening to my husband read them. He snorted, chuckled and guffawed his way through then. And the idea of geezer lit tickled the bejabbers out of him.”

“Thank you for the joy you gave me in reading your book. Paul Jacobson is my new hero. Whilst I am traveling towards the twilight zone myself, this book makes me feel so good about myself that I can rest easy in the knowledge that all is not lost.”

So, I suck it up when some readers react negatively to my work but also realize I provide entertainment and laughs for other readers.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Grandson Lesson for Writers

My sixteen-month-old grandson is always teaching me new lessons. As a writer, I have learned from him what makes a good book. We read a lot together, and he becomes bored if there are too many words and no action. This reinforces what one of my editors says: EOW—economy of words. I’m working on making my writing more concise and hard hitting. Always pay attention to little kids. They’re direct and to the point.