The Worm Olympics and a Short Lesson About the “Inner Critic”

This week’s issue of The Gracie Press Newsletter was sent out yesterday morning. If yours did not arrive in your email “inbox,” you may want to check your “junk” or “spam” folders. BUT there were some that were not sent at all, including my own (to a different email address than the one that I used to set up my newsletter account).

I have to say that is concerning! And in corresponding with someone here on WordPress, I discovered it has happened to some people for the past few weeks. That’s not good! We have been consistent in sending out newsletters every Friday at 9:30 AM for the past 14 weeks.

So if you have been wondering, “Where’s the newsletter?”…Gracie and I are going to do our best to get it corrected with the folks at Revue.

In the meantime, if you’ve been missing issues, you can catch up by using the links below.

The featured image, which you also see above, is in black-and-white, just as it will be in our next book. Reader feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of full-page chapter illustrations.

Due to the length of the book which is currently 246 pages, color is not an option. But then again, I don’t think black-and-white illustrations are such a bad thing…unless of course, I listened to my “inner critic”!

And I do think many of us do have an “Inner Critic.” Mine was working overtime about three years ago when I started drawing pictures of Gracie and my other chickens on sticky notes and scratch pads.

“No one is going to want to look at those!” said my inner critic.

But, of course, people did want to look at them.

“No one is going to want to read stories you write to go with those pictures!” said my inner critic.

But, of course, people did want to read them.

“Go ahead and waste your time writing and illustrating those books. No one is going to pay any attention to them!” said my inner critic.

Well, you can see where this is going, can’t you? The Shoebox will be our fourth book and our first book in a series titled Once Through a Garden Gate.

At 248 pages and over 34,000 words, I think it is fair to say, “Don’t listen to your inner critic!” Or as Gracie says, “Dance with your heart, and then take a leap of faith!”

While you are catching up with our newsletter, why not sign up as a subscriber? August will mark the Third Anniversary of sharing drawings and stories about Gracie, and we will have a special gift for our newsletter subscribers! Wow! Three Years!

You may wonder, “What’s different about the newsletter?” The newsletter shares what I am working on directly with our fans. Because it is an email, our fans can share it with others, particularly those who are young readers with no ads, no distractions, and no strange content. In a way, it’s sort of like sharing a bedtime story!

Also, unlike “My Life With Gracie,” there are no health updates like the ones I have given here from time to time. (In the newsletter, Blanche is still with us. Gracie doesn’t need my help to get up onto her favorite roosting spot at night.)

Another way to say this is that the newsletter anticipates these stories lasting beyond the lives of my chickens and well beyond my own life. That is our hope. We want to make the world a better place for everyone. And so we dance and then take a leap of faith.

Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

Last week, the first official copy of “Seasons of Friendship” arrived in my mailbox. Previously I had received a proof copy and had made a few minor visual changes, probably nothing that most people would notice, but I did.

Just so you know, I tried both Barnes & Noble and Amazon. The quality of printing provided by Barnes & Noble was much better than that done through Amazon. The colors were much truer to the original digital artwork with the test copy from Barnes & Noble.

If you would, compare Gracie in the photo from the book and Gracie in the digital image from the upper right corner. They are even closer when viewed side-by-side.

The illustrations printed by Amazon also had a slightly glossy sheen which did not work well for graphic images. The glossiness might be appropriate for a book which contained photographs, but did not work well for my illustrations.

The feel of the paper from Barnes & Noble was also slightly better which is very important with a print copy. The time from order to delivery was basically the same, one week. (They both use print-on-demand technology rather than a warehouse for self-published books like this.)

Today’s photo is from one of my favorite chapters which is based on this post from the first month of “My Life With Gracie” and this post from earlier this year. It also may be considered the turning point chapter of the book when Gracie learns one of the key lessons of being a good leader.

Classifying “Seasons Of Friendship” was not easy and may still change. It is not really a novel but more of a story collection. Here is how I described it in the preface:

The stories here are rambling. They are simply collections of thoughts, anecdotes, hopes, and dreams. Each is complete in itself, yet they all fit together to tell a bigger story. This is much like life itself.

All are loosely bound together by a common theme. They free range like my chickens exploring their backyard but always coming back home. They aren’t great literature, but they are from my heart.

This book is perhaps best read outdoors in a shady peaceful spot, perhaps in your own little backyard garden, real or imagined. Whether you read just one chapter at a time, one seasonal section at a time, or the entire book all in one leisurely afternoon, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you choose as a reader, I hope you will imagine Gracie and the others sitting at your feet, bringing you peace and friendship.

“Seasons Of Friendship” is now also available as a paperback for $12.50 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “Seasons Of Friendship” paperback!

Four Parts, Twelve Chapters, Seventeen Full Premium Color Illustrations, White 70 lb. Paper, 5.5” x 8.5” with Matte Cover.

Need a preview, just to be sure? Download “Seasons Of Friendship” sample!

As with the eBook version, all royalties from “Seasons Of Friendship” until the end of the year will be donated to the women’s group at St. John’s Church that sponsors our annual Flower Festival. This year, the Flower Festival followed the Hatchday for Gracie and Bessie, April 25th. Each chapter in “Seasons Of Friendship” is illustrated with garden plants as a celebration of beauty and friendship. What a perfect combination of events!

The “A.W.E.-some” women of St. John’s always give and they always give their very best. They love everyone no matter what, and I’ve never known them to turn anyone away who needed help. They always have a smile and a kind word, particularly for those who are the most vulnerable and have no voice. These are just some of the reasons why Gracie and Bessie call them their friends!

My Life With Gracie…Seasons Of Friendship

“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.

“I’m making some pencil sketches of you and the others.”

“Why would you do that?”

“So I won’t forget any of you.”

“You aren’t forgetful. You always remember to feed us.”

“Well, sometimes people forget even though they don’t want to forget especially when they get old. So I want some words and some pictures to help me remember just in case that ever happens to me.”

“What will you do with all these words and pictures?”

“I will put them in a book and maybe share the book with other people.”

Gracie thought this over carefully. “Do they need to remember us too?”

“No. They just need to know how special you are and how much wisdom you have.”

“I don’t know if I have any wisdom.”

“Well, you do. You have taught me more about life than I can ever write or draw.”

“Are you sure? You’re so much bigger than me. You’ve got to know a lot more than me.”

“There are a lot of big people who need your kind of wisdom. You know heart things, Gracie. That’s what really matters.”

“Are you going to tell about Bessie and how she likes to cook?”

“Maybe in another book.”

“Are you going to tell about Pearl and how she puts on comedy shows for all of us in the backyard?”

“Maybe in another book.”

“Are you going to tell about Amelia and how she wants to be the first chicken to fly to the moon and back?”

“Maybe in another book.”

I could guess what her next question was going to be because she was too hesitant to ask it.

“And as much as I want to tell about how you dance ballet, I will do that in another book too. I want that to be the most special book of all.”

“But you promise you will?”

“I promise, and we can work on it together.”

I could tell there was still something troubling her. “What else do you want to know, Gracie?”

“In the ballet book, can you draw a picture of me dancing with you in the streets of Paris? I don’t think we will ever really get to dance there together.”

“Of course, Gracie. Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way.”

“So what will this book be about?”

“It will be about how our little family came to be. It will also be about the most important and wisest things you taught me about friendship.”

“I like that,” she said approvingly.

“I thought you would.”

Today’s post is the Introduction to a book I’ve been working on titled “Seasons Of Friendship.” There are still some final tasks to complete before it is finished. Hopefully within the next week, all will be ready so I can share it with you, our readers and friends.

Our plan is to make it available as a free ebook download during the week leading up to April 25th. Why April 25th? That is the “Hatchday” celebration for Bessie and Gracie! It is also a way of saying “Thank You” for reading and liking and commenting.

You are a seriously huge part of helping to make “My Life With Gracie” what it is. In fact, even the title “Seasons Of Friendship” is based on a comment made by a regular reader who wrote, “I wish I had a friend like Gracie.”

My Life With Gracie taught me a writer without readers has no idea what he’s pecking at or scratching for!