Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yes, Virginia! There Is a Santa Claus!

On September 21, 1897, this letter appeared in The Sun's letters to the editor section.  It is arguably the most famous letter that ever appeared in a newspaper:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

So, do you believe?  I do!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mythology Monday: Up on the Housetop, Sleipner Hooves...

Another title for this blog could have been "Here Comes Odin Right Down Odin Lane!"

That's right. It is that time of year again and time to get ready for Odin coming and giving presents and such. Yes, I have probably lost it long ago, but no I'm not like Linus believing in the Great Pumpkin (well, maybe a little). No, I'm referring to Odin's big Yule hunting party.

During Yule, Odin leads a large hunting party through the sky on his great eight-legged horse Sleipnir (a great story about Sleipnir's birth involves Loki, a randy horse, and the rest can wait for another time).

Now Sleipnir can't fly (silly - only reindeer), but he can leap great distances (like the Hulk). Children would leave their boots near the chimney. They filled it with carrots, straw, and sugar so that Sleipnir would be able to eat. Odin, touched by the children's kindness, would fill up the children's boots with sweets and gifts.

Happy Yule!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writing Wednesday - The Online Card Challenge

The Hour of Code event for now (until the 15th) is how to code your own Javascript holiday card.  What's a writing blog doing showing a coding site?  Well, since this particular course is about creating a card, you can try your hand at writing a pithy, but clever, message for a holiday card.  Writing in any form has its challenges and greeting card writing is no different.  How can you say something original, yet classic, yet creative, yet ... well, you get the idea, in a few words?

So take the challenge.  Go to Learn Street: Hour of Code.  Write the card.  Share your card message with us and let's see if you have a career with Hallmark waiting for you just around the corner.  Plus, you  learn some javascript while you are at it.  How cool is that?

Amazing Gift Idea - But You Must Act Fast

Story Bird is a website ( that allows you to create a picture book, add in artwork from their stock of some pretty amazing art, and publish it.  You can create a pdf, softback, hardback with dust jacket, or premium hardback.

The price?  Membership is free (you can upgrade for more options).  Softback is fifteen bucks.  Premium hardback is thirty.  This is not the way to be self published; however, it is a great way to publish one book for a child in your family.  If you hop on it now, you can get it printed and shipped before Christmas.  It takes about 3 to 5 days for them to print the book and if shipping is nominal, unless you are overnighting it.

It is pretty easy to use.  I just gave my English students an assignment (to all you creative writing teachers out there, you can set up class accounts) to create a story using some of our vocabulary words.  They were able to navigate the site fairly easily - and this is from kids who struggle to check their school email.

If nothing else, it is a great way to practice your picture book writing skills or to just play around.  Let me know if you have had any experience with this site and especially if you have ventured into the paid services.  I would like to know if you feel it is worth it.

Cool service, good art, class accommodations, and cheap printing services - I rate this an A.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Authors on Twitter R - Sc

I'm very curious to know how many of you use Twitter to either follow authors or as an author yourself to build your online platform.  How effective is it for you?

Here is more of the list of authors on Twitter:

Raabe, Chris @authorofanguish
Rafkin, Andrew J. - @AndrewJRafkin
Ramsay, Julie D.- @juliedramsay

Reagan, Susan - @SueReaganTweets
Reber, Romuald - @Rodarima
Redwine, C.J. - @cjredwine

Reekles, Beth - @Reekles
Rees Brennan, Sarah - @sarahreesbrenna
Reichl, Ruth - @ruthreichl

Reid, Aimee - @AimeeEReid
Renier, Aaron - @acornreindeer
Restrepo, Bettina - @BettinaRestrepo

Revis, Beth - @bethrevis
Reynolds, Peter - @peterhreynolds
Richardson, Will - @willrich45

Ricker, Jeffrey - @rickerje
Riefman, Steve - @stevereifman
Riordan, Rick - @camphalfblood

Roach, Mary - @mary_roach
Robbins, Tony - @tonyrobbins
Robinson, Andrea - @ASMRobinson

Robinson, Michelle - @MicheRobinson
Robinson, Sir Ken - @SirKenRobinson
Rocklin, Joanne - @jrocklin

Roman, Dave - @yaytime
Romano, Tony - @antneyromano
Rose, Caroline Starr - @CStarrRose

Rosenblum, Gregg - @GreggRosenblum
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse - @missamykr
Rosenthal, Lorraine Zago - @lorrainezr

Rosin, Nadine M. - @PetParentAuthor
Ross, Elizabeth - @RossElizabeth
Ross, Orna - @OrnaRoss

Rossi, Veronica - @V_Rossibooks
Roth, Ty - @tyrothauthor
Roth, Veronica - @VeronicaRoth

Routman, Regie - @regieroutman
Rowling, JK - @jk_rowling
Rudetsky, Seth - @SethRudetsky

Rush, Jennifer - @Jenn_Rush
Ryan, Carrie - @carrieryan
Ryan Hyde, Catherine - @cryanhyde
Ryan, Trish - @Trishryan

Sagal, Peter - @petersagal
Saenz, Benjamin Alire - @benjaminaliresa
Salisbury, Graham - @sandysalibury

Salter, Sydney - @Sydney_Salter
Sampson, Jeff - @jeffmsampson
Sanderson, Brandon - @BrandSanderson
Santat, Dan - @dsantat

Santiago, Esmerelda - @Esmo
Sassi, Laura - @LauraSassiTales
Sayres, Brianna - @BriannaSayres
Scaletta, Kurtis - @kurtisscaletta

Scattergood, Augusta - @ARScattergood
Schawbel, Dan - @danschawbel
Scheinmel, Alyssa - @AlyssaSheinmel
Schoon, Christian - @cjschoon

Schrefer, Eliot - @EliotSchrefer
Schreiber, Ellen - @ellenschreiber
Schulman, Richard - @alchemylives
Schusterman, Michelle - @Mi_Schu

Schwab, Victoria - @veschwab
Scieszka, Jon - @Jon_Scieszka
Scillian, Devin - @DevinScillian
Scotch, Alison Winn - @ASWinn

Scott, David Meerman - @dmscott
Scott, Elizabeth - @escottwrites
Scott, Michael - @flamelauthor
Scotton, Rob-@robscotton