A Blue Christmas?

Hello, All Readers Who Celebrate Christmas, 

Elvis Presley wasn’t the only one singing about having a Blue Christmas.

Unfortunately, millions of people experience depression, anxiety, hunger, loneliness, or unfulfilled expectations this time of year. This is in part due to the notion that everyone–except maybe ourselves–is having a perfect “Norman Rockwell” Christmas. You know: the happy family gathered around the Christmas tree, opening the perfect gifts because they got everything on their wish lists. Surely, we are missing out somehow and want to partake of this joy.

I think many of us really know deep down that most of these expectations are the stuff of fantasy–dreaming the impossible dream. Dare I add selfishness? Nonetheless, our idealism, desires, and sense of nostalgia perhaps cause us to hope our dreams will still come true with a “Christmas miracle” like in a Hallmark movie. I’ve been guilty of this for too many Christmases. Enter unrealistic expectations, an enormous letdown, and a Blue, self-centered Christmas.

Can a Blue Christmas be avoided or shut down all together? Yes! But it takes practice to habituate.

If I read Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) correctly, Christmas would be the perfect time to pay forward his model of “Self-Transcendence.” That’s the practice of shifting one’s focus from the Self to the Other. It’s also a shift in values from extrinsic motivations–materialism, for example–to intrinsic motivations, where a charitable activity is its own reward, allowing for the growth of an increase in moral concern for those less fortunate than ourselves. And the world is full of such opportunities!

But there’s more. Self-transcendence can help us create true meaning in our lives and develop a strong sense of wellbeing. Our best selves can spring forth from our worst selves as we ingrain an optimistic worldview in human potential, Frankl believed.

If we replace or forestall our inward angst with a helpful spirit, we will gain positivity. Positivity can squelch a Blue Christmas before you’ve even decorated the tree.

And if you’d like to read more of Frankl’s ideas that can help way beyond just Christmas, look for his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. You can find used copies on Amazon HERE.

So, get a clue, dear Christmas celebrants. Isn’t there someone nearby who could use your help to lift them out of their Blue Christmas? If you step up, your reward will be a Bright Christmas. Move over, Elvis. Merry, Bright Christmas to all!

 

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Remember. Understand. Honor.

Hello, All Readers,

Tuesday, December 7, 2021, was the 80th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. You might be wondering why I, a children’s author, am blogging about this.

Here’s part of the backstory: Since December 7th is also my birthday (but not the same year as the attack!), I was called “a Pearl Harbor Baby” by adults when I was growing up. I never knew what that meant until I was about ten years old and could begin to understand. This date connection, among other things, created an interest in me to learn more about the subject, World War II, and the various people and factions involved in the attack that Sunday morning on Oahu in 1941.

Now that I’m a writer, I have embraced the topic for my Book 4, Saffron Street: Island Danger. Our four detectives will travel to Oahu for their fourth mystery at the request of Mr. Itsuki Yamada, a neighbor on Saffron Street. He wants them to locate a family heirloom that went missing on the very day Pearl Harbor was attacked. As a six-year-old child, he witnessed the attack from his home’s front porch on the Pearl City Peninsula. So his story and the bombing of Pearl Harbor will be integral to the mystery and, hopefully, teach kids something about this tragic event that spurred the United States to enter the war.

But this subject has also become very timely, I believe, with its issues around racism and discrimination, namely, the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans and people of Japanese ancestry in the aftermath of the attack. My research has given me an insider’s view from two books in particular: They Called Us Enemy, by actor/activist/author George Takei, who was uprooted along with his family in California and spent four years of his childhood in an Arkansas internment camp; and, Pearl Harbor Child: A Child’s Eyewitness View–From Attack to Peace, by Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson, a young Hawaiian girl living on the Pearl City Peninsula across the bay from Ford Island where the USS Arizona and six other United States battleships were sunk or damaged, 169 aircraft destroyed, and 2,403 military and civilians killed (1,177 from the USS Arizona alone).

So, get a clue, Readers. History can teach us much about the world, our neighbors, and ourselves. I hope my historical fiction mystery with its Pearl Harbor insights will appeal to everyone, but especially to my young readers. Be on the lookout, then, for Saffron Street: Island Danger, coming in mid to late 2022. “Remember. Understand. Honor. Dedicated to those [Americans and Japanese Americans] who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

 

 

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Knowledge is Power!

Hello, All Readers,

I have been invited to present at the San Diego Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ (SCBWI) chapter meeting on December 11. The topic is what I learned as a result of hybrid publishing with Acorn Publishing.

Whew! Sooo much.

I made of list of all the topics and tasks I was asked to do from when I joined Acorn in 2019 to recently when I published my third book last month. The list includes thirty-three items . . . and I could have added many more.

As I worked on my presentation, I had some important revelations: I did a lot of work, my learning curve shot into outer space, and I now feel very empowered by my learning, so much so that I feel I could certainly apply my skills to self-publishing.

Thank you, Acorn Publishing, for believing in me and allowing me to become a publishing author.

So, get a clue, Readers. Stay tuned . . .

 

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Here’s Pie in Your Eye!

Dear kids and All Readers,

A Happy, Blessed Thanksgiving to you! I am grateful for all of you. Here’s to delicious food, lots of friends and loved ones nearby, and of course, PUMPKIN PIE!

 

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Where in the World are my MCs?

Dear Kids and all Readers,

I’ve misplaced my four main characters! I’m talking, of course, about our Botanic Hill Detectives.

Last time I saw Lanny, Lexi, Moki, and Rani–which was about THREE WEEKS AGO (Ugh!)–they were enjoying the surf, sand, and sun on O’ahu while also working seriously on their next case. 

I know what you’re asking: “What do you mean, you’ve ‘misplaced’ the detectives?”

It’s simple, but sad: I’ve been so busy launching Book 3, Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, that I haven’t had time to return to Book 4, Saffron Street: Island Danger, which is set on O’ahu. In Book 4, the detectives are searching for the Yamada family’s missing heirloom, a black Tahitian pearl necklace, that vanished on the very day of the Pearl Harbor bombing–December 7, 1941.

I do miss my detectives. I also miss leaving my space and entering theirs. That’s one of the joys of writing that I will resume VERY soon. I must. I hear the detectives, the ocean waves, and the swaying palm trees calling. Here I come!

So, readers, get a clue! It’s time for holiday shopping. All three of my books are now available for  online ordering. I encourage you to support your local indie bookstores! Here are a variety of links:

Amazon    https://amzn.to/3AyeD31

Barnes & Noble    https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/sherrill+joseph

IndieBound    http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781952112706

Thank you all and Happy Holidays!

 

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A Blast from the Past

Dear Kids and All Readers, 

Yesterday was another red-letter day for me. I had an Anniversary Lunch with my second, second-grade teacher, Connie Colonelli deWerd. We were celebrating SIXTY YEARS of friendship!

We first met when then “Miss Colonelli” arrived in my classroom in February of 1961 to take over for my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Clardy. Her military husband was being relocated to the Midwest. Christmas of 1960 was a sad one for me, knowing Mrs. Clardy was leaving. I dreaded who would be taking her place.

But in February, in walked the fabulous Miss Colonelli. Being young, pretty, and fresh out of college, she brought energy and new ideas to our class. And she drove a cool sports car!

Miss Colonelli got my classmates and me excited about new subjects. One was geology. My parents were impressed that I knew the meanings of and could spell terms like igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic! My heart soared with pride!

Also, Miss Colonelli taught us botany by growing bright green vine-like plants from sweet potatoes poised on toothpicks, sticking out of glass jars on the sun-drenched science table in front of a bank of French doors that looked east onto the playground.

She was our own personal Egyptologist, sharing her travel slides from the pyramids and ancient tombs on Friday afternoons.

And then, there were her art lessons! We all became little Monets and Gauguins with our watercolors and poster paint.

It was difficult to say good-bye in June when school ended, so I resolved not to. I continued to visit her after school throughout the elementary years and when I left the school and moved on to higher grades and college. She invited me to her wedding some years later. And she was deservedly one of the dedicatees in my Book 1, Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets.

Because of Connie Colonelli deWerd, I became a sports car-driving teacher who took pride in presenting myself professionally and delivering interesting, quality lessons to my own students.

I hope you still have someone in your life who has been inspirational. If you do, you’re lucky like me. Just thank them often and never let them go.

 

 

 

 

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