If you want self-esteem, do esteemable things. If you want children to have self-esteem, give them the opportunity to master skills and accomplish esteemable things. Telling a kid they are great is fine, but deep-down they know it’s just words. Give them hands-on experiences through which they can feel for themselves that they’ve accomplished something, helped someone, really done a thing.


I Might Cry: Contest Finalist!

My book, My Writer’s Sampler: Exercises in Learning to Write Fiction, is a finalist in the Red City Review contest! Winners to be announced September 1.  http://redcityreview.com/book-awards/2017-finalists

Sampler and Further Investigation (a mystery) are each finalists in their own categories in the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. (Winners to be announced in October.)

This feels overwhelming, since for most of my life I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I wrote stuff, like one does, school papers; memos, procedure manuals, and reports for work. My first book, Frugal Living for the 21st Century, has good reviews on Amazon. When I tried to branch out into fiction, I learned that a good imagination is not all it takes to write fiction that other people will want to read.

I was slowly learning, from concepts brought out in two critique groups. One day I realized that thanks to the magic of Google, I didn’t have to wait for writing skills to happen to come up in the group, I could look for them. As a part of that research I wrote thirty-two short stories, each meant to exercise a skill I had found. That research became My Writer’s Sampler. We all have stories to tell. Telling them in a way others will like can be learned.

One of those short stories expanded and became a mystery novella, Further Investigation. People who read it seemed sincere when they said they liked it, so I’m now working on two more, Cold Case and Flight Risk.



Duolingo is Great, Muy Bueno

http://www.duolingo.com offers free lessons in several languages. Last year I learned quite a bit of Spanish very quickly and easily. Maybe it just so happens that my personal learning style fits their methods, but I think it would work well for most people. You hear it, say it, see it, type it. I find it goes more easily if I hurry, because I’m not stressing about remembering each word this time, it will come around again. I think it might work just as well if I didn’t have audio.

Languages have always interested me, but I haven’t had the self-discipline to study tapes or CDs on my own. I bookmarked Duolingo on my bookmarks bar and most days I went there and did a few short lessons, or sometimes many short lessons.

I like it that if I miss a word it doesn’t make a big deal out of it, and a few clicks later it comes around again, until I finally get it. It never says I failed or makes that raspberry noise some games have. And when I get a section right it plays a “ta-da” kind of music and awards me some internal currency I can use to buy enriching extra lesson in things like proverbs and sayings.

Coming soon: Klingon!

Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.

Wonderful review

I am so moved by this review. “Tightwad Gazette of the 21st Century” is exactly what I wanted people to think about it:

“Great book!, February 18, 2014

By Lita McRiley “Sorlina”See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely (Kindle Edition)

This book is jam-packed with tips, ideas, and strategies for saving money. It’s the Tightwad Gazette of the 21st century… internet addresses for DIY help, encouragement for readers, personal anecdotes, this book has it all. To top it off, it’s delivered in a light, easy to read style that isn’t preachy or judgmental. A very helpful, and enjoyable, read!”

The Tightwad Gazette has been the “bible” of thrifty living. My hope was to make it the ‘old testament’ and mine the ‘new testament’, and it seems I have succeeded.


Learn a Language for Free – Duolingo

I enjoy learning a new language, but I don’t know many languages well because I lack the self-discipline to stick with it. My high school French has been of little use to me because I’m never around anyone who speaks French. I know the usual food words and “hola” in Spanish. Sadly, I can cuss or call names in six languages, but I’m fluent only in English.

Something that helps with sticking with it is www.duolingo.com. They send me an email every day reminding me to come back and learn some more. The format is kind of game-like, so I think I’m playing, but it’s also a sound way of learning. I do better when I not only hear and say it but also read and write it, and Duolingo.com has all of that. So far I’m finding the amount of repetition to be just enough so I finally catch on and not so much that I get annoyed with it.

At present they offer Latin American Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, and Italian courses for English speakers, as well as American English for Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Turkish, and Hungarian speakers. It is available on the Web, iOS, and Android platforms.