Now available: My new book, Witnesses of Hope, Faith, Love and Healing, at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions.

Share your memories of Park Central Square, Springfield, Missouri, for my new book. Details.

Noah: It’s a Movie, Fer Cryin' Out Loud

Russell Crowe in Noah
What does the 2014 blockbuster movie Noah have to do with your memoir? Stay with me while I set the stage. (No doubt, Theater Breath, you recognized the pun.)

Cecil B. DeMille is supposed to have said, "Give me any page in the Bible and I will give you a movie." And why not? The Bible has plenty of action, conflict, romance, treachery, wars, mystery, infidelity (always great for ticket sales), supernatural events, and evil versus good--reasons why the Bible remains the bestselling book of all times.

Believers, nonbelievers, and censors
A lot of controversy surrounds Noah the movie. Results of test screenings to Jewish, Christian, and general audiences were reported to be troubling. In interviews, director-writer Darren Aronofsky and writer Ari Handel said their movie was a re-imagining of the Noah narrative. The narrative takes up roughly two-and-one-half pages in the Bible.

Bible believers who pooh-poohed the movie said it characterizes themes not in the original Genesis account (a flood story is in numerous cultures.) Nonbelievers who pooh-poohed it said it is a preposterous telling of a bizarre myth. Film censors in Islamic strongholds Malaysia and Indonesia banned the movie because it depicts a prophet; Islamic law forbids worship of other than God.

Fer cryin' out loud, people, it's a movie. I've seen movies with this statement at the beginning: "Some of the following is true." The major purposes of most movies are to entertain, provide jobs, and make money. Opening weekend, Noah earned $139 million at the box office worldwide; not a record for an opening weekend, but enough to make the producers happy--the film cost $130 million to make.

It's your memoir, go with it
What's my point? Just as the Bible is based on stories and just as movies are based on stories, your memoir is based on stories. And since, by definition, memoir is based on only a short period in a life--think one page in the Bible--you could write more than one memoir. Gloria Vanderbilt wrote five, Mary Karr and Sue William Silverman each wrote three.

If twenty directors made movies from the same page in the Bible, the results would be twenty different movies. I'm not suggesting you make up a bunch of stuff in your memoir, although some publishers categorize memoir as fiction. This is true: Your story, your memoir, is just that--yours. You tell it from your viewpoint, your experiences, your emotions, your growth, your purposes. And if it gets banned in Malaysia and Indonesia? Well, you tells your story and takes your chances.

Read author Linda Thomas's views on sacred connection and personal ownership of memoir in her guest post. How do you feel about the ownership of your memoir? Of your memoir having a sacred connection?

Photo copyright Paramount Pictures. Courtesy IMDb.

Cultural and Literary Events for April 2014

Official poster of National Poetry Month
Write a letter, write a poem, write a card; you can do it all in April and much more. Check with your library, college, government agencies, or community groups for activities in your area.

Not all cultural and literary events are declared official by government agencies. Some are by passionate nonprofit groups whose members want to have fun with their topics or get the word out about their important work.

Listings are USA unless indicated.

National Poetry Month Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Contact your local organizations for readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

School Library Month Founded by American Association of School Librarians in 1985. Jeff Kinney, New York Times bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, is 2014 national spokesperson.

March-April
Deaf History Month (March 13-April 15)
Kite Month (March 29-May 3)

April
African-American Women's Fitness Month
Alcohol Awareness Month
Autism Awareness Month
Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month International
Cancer Control Month
Car Care Month
Card and Letter Writing Month
Child Abuse Prevention Month
Confederate History Month
Couple Appreciation Month
Customer Loyalty Month International
Decorating Month
Defeat Diabetes Month
Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Donate Life Month
Emotional Overeating Awareness Month
Fresh Florida Tomato Month
Grange Month
Holy Humor Month
Humor Month
Informed Woman Month
Jazz Appreciation Month
Knuckles Down Month
Landscape Architecture Month
Library Week, April 13-19 
Month of the Young Child
Occupational Therapy Month
Pecan Month
Pest Management Month
Pet First Aid Awareness Month
Pharmacists' War on Diabetes Month
Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month
Rebuilding Month
Rosacea Awareness Month
Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month 
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Education and Awareness Month
Soyfoods Month
Straw Hat Month
Stress Awareness Month
Twit Award Month
Women's Eye Health and Safety Month
Workplace Conflict Awareness Month
World Habitat Awareness Month
Youth Sports Safety Month

Tell us what you are doing to observe and write about these or other special events in April. What memories do you have of these evens?

Poster image courtesy poets.org.

Some listings courtesy Chase's Calendar of Events.

A Boy and His Grandfather Travel through Time

Kai and Carl with their animal friends.
Secrets, magic, and a kingdom at peril—a description of some current television shows, yes. It is also how photographer and genealogy enthusiast Carl James is introducing his four-year old grandson Kai to their family history in an exciting new way, even though they live 1,000 miles apart. Carl lives in Springfield, Missouri and Kai in Richmond, Virginia.

“We only see each other in person once or twice a year, but we Skype quite a bit,” Carl says. “His mother and I brainstormed on how we could stay in contact more often. We came up with the idea for a genealogy book in which Kai and I would time travel to learn about our ancestors.”

After a visit to Springfield by Kai and his family, Carl sent them home with an empty three-ring binder, to which he adds installments combining photos, clip art, and text.

The story
“My family had some history with James VI, who was king of Scotland in the 1500s. The story I’m doing for Kai has him as a knight—Sir Kai, Lord of Wales—and me as Opa Carl, Grand Wizard of Nottingham. Opa is German for grandpa. German is one of three languages Kai is growing up with; the others are Spanish and English."

Sir Kai rides a horse named Flame and Opa Carl has an owl named Hootie on his shoulder. King James the VI, whom the story identifies as Kai’s uncle, tells Opa Carl the kingdom is in danger from people who want to overthrow the king. "Included are members of the Clan Ruthven who are related to us and living in the castle," Opa tells Kai. "The king wants you to investigate the clan to find who he can trust."

Opa Carl and Sir Kai can travel anywhere, past or future. "No one can ever know we are from the future,” Opa Carl cautions. Carl can send Hootie as a scout. Hootie is a shape shifter, an American Indian term for an animal that can change into other creatures. Hootie becomes Mimi the mouse, Ring the raccoon, or Scooby Doo the dog.

A world-wide adventure
Besides the fun of the story—Carl says he is having more fun than Kai—Carl makes the genealogy book interactive for Kai by hiding Mimi and other animals on pages for Kai to find. He also drops in photos of Scotland he took as background for the characters. As the ancestry story develops, Carl will add maps and photos of Japan, England, and Ireland.

How long will it take to finish the project? “Kai likely will be grown,” Carl says.

Carl is a registered architect. He started drafting when he was nineteen. After two years of college, he became an architect’s apprentice for twelve years before passing the Missouri registration examination. He worked for eighteen years for Warren & Goodin Architects and Engineers in Springfield and designed hotels for John Q. Hammons. Parkinson’s disease forced him to retire in 2007 at age fifty-nine.

His book, Aux Arcs, Black & White Photography of the Ozarks Region, combines his love of photography with his poetry. Other of his photographs, poems, and essays are on his website, Liteworx Productions.

What fun new way have you found to tell your family history? Or, tell about such a project by someone you know.

Image: From a page in the James genealogy book. Courtesy Carl James.

Cultural and Literary Events for March 2014

Visitors to a garden in Suzhou, China, during a typhoon.
How are you celebrating special observances in March? Have fun, write about them, and let us know.

Not all cultural and literary events are declared official by government agencies. Some are by passionate nonprofit groups whose members want to have fun with their topics or get the word out about their important work.

Check with your library, college, government agencies, or community groups for activities in your area.

Mirth Month International - Created by author, keynote speaker, and jollytologist Allen Klein.

Sing with Your Child Month - Singing with your family forms everlasting bonds and enables children to feel safe and secure.

Umbrella Month - Ways to celebrate the umbrella which was invented 4,000 years ago.

Other March Observances
Listings are for the United States unless noted.
Caffeine Awareness 
Clean Up Your IRS Act
Colic Awareness
Colorectal Cancer Education and Awareness 
Craft Month
Credit Education
Employee Spirit
Expanding Girls' Horizons in Science and Engineering
Eye Donor
Frozen Food 
Greek-American Heritage
Humorists Are Artists
Ideas Month International
Irish-American Heritage 
Kidney Month
Listening Awareness Month International  
Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training
Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness 
Music in Our Schools
Nutrition Month      
Optimism Month
Peanut Month
Play-the-Recorder
Poison Prevention Awareness
Red Cross Month
Save Your Vision
Social Work Month
Women's History Month
Workplace Eye Wellness
Youth Art

March-April
Deaf History Month - March 13-April 15
Kite Month - March 29-May 3

What March event most influences writing your life story? What are you doing in your community to observe a special event?

Some listings courtesy Chase's Calendar of Events.

Photo: Pascal3012/CreativeCommons

Cultural and Literary Events for February 2014

Chinese Pottery Horse
Use these special observances as memory joggers for writing your life story or for having fun in your community. Check with your library, college, government agencies, or community groups for activities in your area. 

Not all cultural and literary events are declared official by government agencies. Some are by passionate nonprofit groups whose members want to have fun with their topics or get the word out about their important work.
 
Chinese New Year
Fifteen-day celebration of year of the horse starting January 31. Eight things you should know. Chinese new years are based on the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Those born in the year of the horse are considered fashionable and self-confident, like to show-off, and may fall in love easily.

Other February Observances
Listings are for the United States unless noted.
MD/Low Vision Awareness Month 
American Heart Month 
Bake for Family Fun Month
Beat the Heat Month
Bird-Feeding Month 
Boost Self-Esteem Month
Cherry Month
Condom Month
Expect Success Month International
Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month 
Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month 
Mend a Broken Heart Month
Parent Leadership Month
Pet Dental Health Month
Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month
Renaissance of the Heart Month International
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
Spay/Neuter Awareness Month
Spunky Old Broads Month
Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month
Time Management Month
Wise Health Care Consumer Month
Women Inventors Month
Youth Leadership Month 

What February event most influences writing your life story? What are you doing in your community to observe a special event?

Some listings courtesy Chase's Calendar of Events. 

Photo: Chinese pottery horse, Tang Dynasty, 618-907 A.D. "Treasures of China Exhibit," Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2007. Courtesy Creative Commons

Cultural and Literary Events for January 2014


Courtesy Society for Storytelling
Food for your body and food for your brain, self-defense, self-help, and self-love are among this month's cultural and literary events. Use them as memory joggers for writing your life story or for having fun in your community. Check with your library, college, government agencies, or community groups for activities in your area.

Not all cultural and literary events are declared official by government agencies. Some are by passionate nonprofit groups whose members want to have fun with their topics or get the word out about their important work. Listings are for the United States unless noted.

National Storytelling Week
United Kingdom, February 1-8 
Heads-up, as this event is the first week of February.

January
Be Kind to Food Servers Month
Be On-Purpose Month
Book Blitz Month
Brain Teaser Month International
Celebration of Life Month
Child-Centered Divorce Awareness Month International
Clean Up Your Computer Month
Creativity Month International
Get Organized Month
Glaucoma Awareness Month
Mentoring Month   
New Year's Resolution Month for Business International 
Oatmeal Month   
Personal Self-Defense Awareness Month
Poverty in America Awareness Month
Radon Action Month
Rising Star Month International
Self-Help Group Awareness Month
Self-Love Month
Shape Up US Month
Skating Month
Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Stalking Awareness Month
Volunteer Blood Donor Month
Wayfinding Month International
Wealth Mentality Month International  

What January event most influences writing your life story? What are you doing in your community to observe a special event?

Some listings courtesy Chase's Calendar of Events.

Cultural and Literary Events for December 2013

Yummy!
December is a great month for fruits and vegetables: Quince and Watermelon Month
(I had to look up quince), Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month (think quince), Tomato and Winter Squash Month.

Vegetables not your thing? Then you may want to celebrate Cooked Grasshoppers Month. Think of the protein. Think of dipping them into chocolate. Think of dark chocolate.

If you're not into food, then you could Write to a Friend or Write a Business Plan.

Check with your library, college, government agencies, or community groups for activities in your area. Listings are for the United States unless noted.

Not all cultural and literary events are declared official by government agencies. Some are by passionate nonprofit groups whose members want to have fun with their topics or get the word out about their important work.

December
Art and Architecture Month
Bingo's Birthday Month
Closed Caption TV Month
Colorectal Cancer Education and Awareness Month
Cooked Grasshoppers Month
Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month
Hi Neighbor Month
Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month
International Calendar Awareness Month
Learn A Foreign Language Month
Made In America Month
Merry Merchants Month
Most Fun Month
Operation Santa Paws
Poor Looking Winter Month
Quince and Watermelon Month
Read a new book month
Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month
Safe toy and Gift Month
Sign Up for Summer Camp Month
Stress-Free Family Holiday Month
Spiritual Literacy Month
Take a New Year’s Resolution to Stop Smoking Month
Tie Month
Tomato and Winter Squash Month
Universal Human Rights Month
World Aids Month
Write a Business Plan Month
Write to a Friend Month

What December event most influenced writing your life story? What are you doing in your community to observe a special event? 

List courtesy Holidays for Today, BrownieLocks, and Chase's Calendar of Events.

Photo courtesy Collegiate Pawpage