Flying Donkey Blog
Flying Donkey Blog

Back at Orchard Park

Dear Friends of the Flying Donkey,
On one of the last days of the school year I read for 6 (yes 6) 3rd Grade classes at Orchard Park Elementary.  It was some big fun.  Teachers paired up their classes for 3 readings and each reading was unique in its own way.  The kids in the first reading  (Ms. Haas and Ms. Thies classes) were really supportive and very thoughtful. They focused on telling me ways they (and some of their family members) were connected to some of the things in the story of  "When Donkeys Fly". 
Ms. Babinchak and Ms. Martinez's students were full of great questions. It seemed that there were a few aspiring authors in the group so they were very interested in the process and very serious about getting me to sign stuff afterwards.. a part of this whole author gig which still makes me laugh.
Ms. Oparah and Ms. Warren's class had a slightly different agenda.  One boy in particular was pretty focused on taking me down   When I finished reading the book, he promptly asked, "Are you really saying that I can do anything? Anything in the world".  "Yes sir, I am", I answered.  "Well, I can't jump off of the Empire State Building can I?" "Do you really want to?" I responded.  "Well there is no way I can", he shot back. For a moment I panicked.  A headline flashed before me. "Local Author Encourages Kids to Jump Off Buildings.  What to say? What to say? What to say? It was going to take some divine inspiration to get me through this one. Thank goodness it came, right in the nick of time.  "Well, if you don't think it is possible to jump off the Empire State Building, you never will.  If you are open to the possibility that it is possible, you will find a way to make it happen... and happen safely.  You will invent a suit that will keep you from being injured that is equipped with a rocket backpack and a parachute so you can follow your dream without getting hurt.  If you continue to think that jumping off of the Empire State Building is not possible and convince everyone else in the world that it isn't possible, no one will ever invent the Empire State Building Jump Suit"  The class was quiet. Their wheels were turning. As the kids beamed with possibly, I quietly sighed with relief... and gratitude.

Fort Mill High School

Dear Friends of the Flying Donkey,
Well, well, well. You may be surprised to hear that I was invited to "read" at another High School.  Three classes in fact at Fort Mill High School last Friday.  Luckily, my Nation Ford experience had me primed and ready and really excited to meet and greet some more folks of the future.  I was amazed.  Not only were Ms. McIntyre's classes able to find their inner third grader.  They were able to bring their third grader forth and semi-circle on the floor .  It was quite a day and quite a talk.  Who knew that my seemingly less than meaningful and somewhat disjointed resume would lead me to the front of a classroom to discuss Career Development.  It's funny.  Though I hadn't really planned anything to say, the more I talked, the more the pieces of my life (and career) seemed to fit together and lead me to where I am now... and why I was even standing before them.  I wrote a children's book!!!
Seriously, when I really think about it, doing Singing Balloonagrams in college prepared me to stand in front of people and sing, dance or just act like an idiot and not be scared.  Selling Real Estate prepared me to sell.  Working in an Ad Agency made me realize how much I love to write.  Working for a Professional Speaker taught me the ropes of scheduling gigs.  Working in a restaurant taught me that I didn't want to work in a restaurant .  And working for so many years in the video industry has given me great knowledge and even greater contacts to help me gain distribution on the book.  Looking back, all of the pieces of my life really seem to fit together without a conscious effort on my part... and as I looked at some of the teenage faces in the audience as I spoke... I almost sensed relief. 
No, I am not going to get on a soapbox. But I will wonder aloud how kids these days seem to be able to declare "majors" in 8th grade.  When I was in 8th grade, I wanted to be a paratrooper .  Yes, I know that specializing in a certain field has its benefits and that's great for some and may be how we are able to achieve such amazing advances in math, science and technology... but there is something to be said for the dabblers of the world whose minds are free enough to flow with their tides of their careers... who don't have to decide when they are 12 that they want to be an astronuclearphysist (yes I made that word up).
But enough of that. Back to the fun stuff.  I am pretty sure that I made some promises that I really should try to keep.  I promised not to make fun of the fact that Ms. McIntyre would win the award for most enthusiastic student in the class.  So I won't. I promised not to make fun of the fact that she thought that there was a bookstore in Rock Hill called "Juggs", so I shouldn't.  But I will say that all of her students really seem to connect with her and that they were a pleasure to be around. 
At the end of the day when lessons turned more into stories and the stories turned back into song, I found out that some of the students are my neighbors (who want to buy my solo album  one day) and some are even friends with my nephew Drew, who is a rising Senior at Fort Mill High.   Luckily they all promised me that they wouldn't embarrass me by telling him that I did my "human kazoo" impression in class (so they better not ).
Enough of my ramblings.
Loving life and loving you!

My First High School Visit

Dear Friends of the Flying Donkey,

OK. So I admit.  When I was contacted by Ms. Corley to come and "read' to her class I accepted without realizing that Nation Ford was, in fact, a High School, and the "kids" I would be reading to were in 10-12 grade.  Once that reality hit, it threw me a bit.  These "young adults" are going to think that having some chick come into class to read a children's book is less than lame... panic began to set in.  But Ms. Corley, sweet Ms. Corley, assured me that we are all just little kids in big bodies and I decided to buy  it.... because I know that I am definitely a 3rd grader trapped in a saggingly 40ish frame   Plus there is something so very freeing about facing your fears fueled by nothing but faith.
So there I stood in front of what were sure to be some of the coolest kids in the school. My plan - Get them in touch with their inner 3rd grader and it was waaaay easier than I thought.  Here was a group of teenagers eager to show me their donkey ears and their donkey tail and seemingly hanging on my every word about how we don't always know up front what we want to be when we grow up. Heck, I am 42 years old and just figured it out this year.  What these kids do know is that they want to be of service.  They want to make a difference.  That is why they have majored on Early Childhood Education Classes.  So maybe they all won't grow up to be teachers... but they all will certainly grow up wanting to make a difference in this world... and in my book that is all that really matters. No pun intended  
As a sidebar, I would really like to thank whomever it was in the class that proclaimed that "When Donkeys Fly" would make great graduation gift. Fabuous idea don't you think?

I would also like to "thank" Ms. Hooper (the media specialist) for letting the cat out of the bag about a little song that I wrote (inspired by the book).  She had me singing in both classes and doing a cameo in the library no less.  Nothing quite as freeing as belting out a song in the library. I highly suggest that you try it, but you better make sure that you hoop it up on a day that Ms. Hooper is in charge
Still loving life. Hope you are too.

Ms. Raines Class

Dear Friends of the Flying Donkey,
I'm afraid that I am going to have to expand my list of Top 5 Gifts ever.  I just received a package from Ms. Raines 3rd Grade Class at Springfield Elementary.  It is full of very professionally written letters from students telling me what they plan to do When Donkeys Fly.  Before I get to that , I have to mention what a complete pleasure it was to read to Ms. Raines class.  They were not only sweet, eager and interested... they seemed to really get the message, take it to heart and ask great questions.  (Gold star for their teacher.)
One question however, threw me for a loop.  "Do you know what a gelpen is"?  Gotta tell you, standing before a class of twenty 8 and 9-year-olds you really feel like you need to have all the answers, so my mind started racing.  What the heck is a gelpen?  Was that one of the robot guys on Star Wars?  Was it one of Harry Potter's arch nemesis or perhaps some sort of munchkin made out of gel? I had no idea.  Then young and handsome Matt came to the rescue and held up a GEL PEN - a pen that writes with GEL.  So I was finally able to save face and say "Oh Yes, I know what a gel pen is" but not sure that I have ever owned one....
Well that was all I needed to say to get these big hearted kids going.  They lined up one-by-one (Matt first) to present me with my own spontaneous gel pen collection.  I got red pens, blue pens, purple pens, orange pens and even pink pens. One sweet girl even gave me two (and one was metalic- very cool).
So now I am the proud owner of a gel pen collection compliments of Ms. Raines 3rd Grade Class.  I promised to use them to sign books... and I will.  Maybe they will help with my handwriting....
Now back to the letters. I wish that I had time to share them all.  I was slipped a few while I was in class.  One from Hope wishing me "Good Luck with your books"! A beautiful self portrait from Enogie Omarebee. And a note from Kathryn who said "Thank you. You would be a great writer for everyone! I want to be an author when I grow up too".  Wow. Still amazing to me that someone views me as a grown up. I didn't think I could be more touched.... then I got "the letters".
I seriously wish that had time to write about each and every one of them... but I have read them all... at least 5 times and have been able to find most, if not all of the hidden donkeys  
Like the one from Lauren who told me that When Donkeys Fly this summer she isn't going to be afraid to swim in the 12 ft of  her grandma's pool. Maggie Grace who gave me a blue sparkly gel pen and will always remember the donkey signal when someone says that she can't do something.  Casey who would do anything to save a sick animal. (Remind you of anyone else we know-  Mary?). Zeke who wants to be a car tester, Tori, the horse lover, who thinks I should write a book called "When People Fly because sometimes it is hard to fly without a plane or hot air balloon or something like that".
Now that Steven has seen a donkey fly he is going to try out for sports. His 4 choices are skate boarding, basketball, football and baseball. He ends by saying "What a hard disicon" and signed it "Your Donkey seeing Friend Steven".  (Yes, I am tearing up again). There are so many other good ones like Matt who wants to be the President so he can be the boss of everyone in the United States and Grayson who can't wait to get a copy of the book so he can share it with his family. 
My "Donkey Loving Friend" Hunter can't wait to play college football. Kathryn wants to be an author and illustrator.  I, for one, can't wait to read her first mystery novel (her favorite type).  Rachel thought the book was "spectacular" and she knows good books because she and her twin have written a series of their own!  Chanel (signed your admirer) also plans to be a writer and may call the book "You've Seen a Lama Fly".  And last but not least, Christie, an aspiring singer, plans to "buy a dog and a hamster... if the dog doesn't eat it".  I personally think that is a great life plan and also plan to invest in things that do not eat each other 
I got dozens of great book ideas... When Whales Fly, When Turtles Fly, but I think my favorite has to be the one from Enogie Omarebee who wants to be a model, the mayer, a principal, build a school, go to Europe and find a cure to aids. She suggested that I write a book called "When It Rains Hotdogs".  Gotta tell you, that idea is so good I can almost smell it
As you can probably tell I am still crazy in love. Thanks for all of your support.  This is some really fun stuff

Best (OK Top 5) Present Ever!


Dear Friends of the Flying Donkey,

You will never guess what I got. Remember the 1st
Grade Class at Orchard Park that I read to? They sent me an expertly spiral bound book, via LoMo, entitled "We saw a Donkey fly", It has their class picture on the cover and I challenge any one of you to read it an be able to keep a dry eye.  Each kid in the class got a page to say and draw what he or she will do "When Donkeys Fly".

Some of the entries included:
When Donkeys Fly, I will be a "Carltr" with a picture of a cheerleader by Kaitlin.
When Donkeys Fly, I will be a "ful dall playr" with a picture of a football player love Tommy.
When Donkeys Fly, I will be a "pulys" with a picture of a police car from Grant.
When Donkeys Fly, I will "ride a horse" with a pictue of an pretty, orange girl on a horse from Nicole.
When Donkeys Fly, I will be a "Scientes" featuring an amazingly handsome guy in a white coat by Grayson.
When Donkeys Fly, I will be a "dasr" showcasing an uncomfortably familiar triangle-shaped girl in a pink tutu.
(Dismissed as coincidence.)
When Donkeys Fly, I will be a "Friut gradr teacher" with a lifelike image of a person in an orange shirt, pink skirt and brown leggings holding a book called "The Big Egg" by nakayha.  (Paid product placement perhaps?)

LoMo's daughter's page was a classic:
When Donkeys Fly, I will "gat a los fo so ft anmls" by Dot.  Did you guess it?  The translation from Dot's mom was that Dot wants (and already no doubt has) lots of stuffed animals.

And my favorite:
When Donkeys Fly, I will like "orangeis" with a picture of a girl in a pink dress holding an orange at arms length - by Megan.

No matter how many books I write.... I will ALWAYS treasure this one.  These kids minds are amazing.


My First Blog (And Reading) Ever!

Dear Friends of the Flying Donkey

Welcome to my first Blog ever!  If it sounds like an email, it is because that is exactly what it is. It is an email that I sent out a few weeks ago that prompted this whole Blog idea.  I must admit, it makes me laugh that anyone would want to read my ramblings... but here goes.  Hope I can keep it interesting

I had one of my best dinner's ever with Kathryn and Skip last night (crabslegs and a brownie sunday) and one of the best days of my life today.  Today I had my first formal book reading at Orchard Park Elementary in Baxter (Fort Mill).  I friend of mine from college (LoMo)  saw an article about "When Donkey's Fly" in the Fort Mill Times and asked me to come and read the book to her girl's 1st and 3rd grade classes.  Gotta tell you, I'm pretty sure that I had my first "near rock star" experience....  those kids went nuts over the book.... and thought that I was pretty cool too .
The most quotable quotes were:
"'Your face... your face.... it looks pretty... just like Helen Hunt's".
"You are so inspiring... just like Oprah".
"You should be on Oprah. You're fun."
"Will you write a book about me?" and I responded "I already did... it is called "When Donkey's Fly" and I had someone just like you in mind when I wrote it. She beamed
With the help of Kim (the designer) and Cam (the illustrator), I took them coloring pages, magnets and mini Donkey Fly posters so after the reading they all lined up for an unprompted signing.  I tried to write something unique for each child.  The two most memorable were two girls (opposite extremes of the universe) one very full of herself and one was very quiet and shy.  The first one asked me to please sign it "To Alicia- I will definitely vote for you for president one day" -ginger ( I did and I will)   The other girl spoke very softly so I could barely make out her saying.  "Just write anything" so I wrote..... "From one of your biggest fans" -ginger.  You would have thought that I gave her the key to city she lit up like a Christmas tree.  That was one of my favorite moments ever. It even beat out the little boy name Dylan who quietly slipped a stealthily folded piece of paper into my hand and made me promise to read it later... it was a story that he had written and wanted me to get published called "From the War I Run".  From his lips to God's ears eh?????
Anyway, just keeping you in the loop of my latest love...  this is some really, really fun stuff !!!!
Much love and unadulterated joy