Put on Your Literacy Apron

I was the recipient of a hand made apron as a door prize at the White County Creative Writers Conference. I've decided to call it my literacy apron. This adorable design is a great gift for a writer, and it would also be a perfect gift for a teacher or a librarian. The big lower pocket has ample room for a note pad, pen, and voice recorder to keep any ideas from slipping away. Or maybe I'll fill mine up with paperbacks so I'll have one handy all the time.

Apron or no apron, writers, teachers, and librarians are all about promoting literacy. In spite of our best intentions, 14% of the U.S. population can't read.

It's no secret that people who read have an advantage. According to DoSomething.org, reading can be a life-changer. The site lists many facts about illiteracy, such as:

1.  2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America's inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.

2.  Students who don't read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school.

3.  Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the court system are functionally illiterate, proving there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime.

4.  More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.

5. Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live in poverty and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who read proficiently.

There are holidays in every month of the year to remind us of the importance of literacy. August 9 was National Book Lovers' Day. September 6 was National Read a Book Day. Today is International Literacy Day.

Any day would be a good day to put on your literacy apron and help someone learn to read.


A Writing Conference and New Friends

Yesterday I attended the 2017 White County Creative Writers Conference, and I came away with inspiration, writing tips, and new friends. The group sponsors this annual event in Searcy, Arkansas, but this was the first time I have been able to attend. The speakers were awesome.

Dr. Frank W. Brown spoke on memoir writing. He has compiled the memories of growing up in Searcy into a memoir so his children and grandchildren will someday have a chance to know the things they may not be interested in asking about or listening to while they are young.

Peggy Archer is an author of several children's books. She did an outstanding presentation on "show, don't tell". This is a great reminder for writers of any age group. Peggy did an additional presentation on poetry.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter led a session on how to avoid rejections and red lines from publishers. This is the kind of information all writers are on the edge of their seats to hear. Shannon writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has published numerous books.

In addition to all the knowledge I gained, I also took home an honorable mention for a short story. Dot Hatfield made my day when she called my name.

I went to the conference solo, and I had not met anyone else who was attending. No worries, writers love to get acquainted. I didn't get photos of all the writers I met, but I'm happy to be able to count some of them as new friends. Shirley and Mary Lee, I hope to see you at the next conference.