Favorite #141: Glenn Sherrill: Dog Trainer, Friend

Glenn Sherrill, making his dreams come true one dog at a time, or in this case, seven at a time.

Glenn Sherrill, making his dreams come true one dog at a time, or in this case, seven at a time.

Hopes, Dreams and Visions

Glenn Sherrill and I were colleagues during the years I taught music in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools in Salisbury, NC. After meeting Glenn, it didn’t take long until I discovered he not only had a passion for music, but also training dogs.

As a children’s author, I’m always looking for ideas for my books. Realizing Glenn’s passion for music and training dogs, I envisioned Glenn as a character in one of my stories. Excited about the possibilities, Glenn enjoyed watching and participating in the development of the book, Tired of Being Obedient.

As the main character in the story, Glenn trains two dogs who discover through different experiences that obedience and respect are beneficial for a happy and productive life. The inferred message, of course, is that’s true for people, too. Not only does this book have a message that’s important in today’s culture, but the story will touch your heart.

The illustrator for Tired of Being Obedient, Jean Barlow, drew Glenn’s character from an actual photo. When Glenn saw his likeness in cartoon form, he laughed and said, “I’m skinnier and have more hair.”  Looking at the illustrations, I agreed with him and laughed, too .

Glenn has studied with some of the best trainers in the business, including Cheri Wulff Lucas, Brian Agnew, Rick Denning, Ty Brown, and Martin Deeley. A big thank-you to each of them for their contribution of quotes and photos used with permission in the completion of this book.

Through his business, Train Play Live, Glenn offers group classes, private lessons, doggie boot camp, problem solving and behavior modification. When asking Glenn his philosophy for training dogs, he said, Give your dog respect and boundaries and she will give you calmness, obedience and love. Give your dog constant, unearned affection and freedom and she will give you problems.

Thanks, Glenn for your help and willingness to participate in this project. Thanks also to Glenn’s wife, Heather Sherrill and Eli, Glenn’s son. Although behind the scenes, they still played a vital role in making this book a reality. If interested in learning more about Glenn or his business, Train Play Live, check out his website.

Tired of Being Obedient was published by Warren Publishing and is now available on Amazon.com.

What dream or passion do you hold close to your heart? What steps have you taken to make your dreams come true? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #140: Carolinas Writing Workshop

Writing, Networking and Fun

Enjoyed getting to meet Chuck Sambuchino at the writers' conference.

Enjoyed meeting Chuck Sambuchino at the 2015 Carolinas Writing Workshop in Charlotte, NC.

As a writer it’s always refreshing and fun to spend time with other writers, networking and sharing ideas. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Carolinas Writing Workshop in Charlotte, NC, with Chuck Sambuchino as the presenter.

The workshop format gave attendees the opportunity to meet agents as well as pitch their work. Chuck led break-out sessions throughout the day with tips and advice on writing query letters, pitching to agents and marketing. During one of the break-out sessions I learned the coordinator for the event, Jessica Bell, is not only an author, but also a talented musician. Chuck explained he and Jessica met during the 2012 Homeric Writers Retreat in Greece.

Before attending the event in Charlotte, I learned of Chuck’s expertise in the field of publishing and marketing from following his blog. He always has up-to-date information about agents, writing query letters and current trends such as how to define categories of writing. It was through his blog I learned of the workshop in Charlotte.

I was excited not only to have the chance to meet Chuck, but also to have my photograph taken with him. He was very gracious, listening to my concerns, even giving advice for specific problems such as writing realistic dialogue for a middle-grade novel. I was especially interested in his advice on getting more traffic to my blog. He said one way is to include links of similar content. I’m putting that advice into practice today.

Although I did not get to meet Jessica, I did purchase one of her books, Writing in a Nutshell. Written in an easy to follow format, she includes examples of how to “show, don’t tell.” I recommend this book to anyone who needs help with this particular writing technique.

What an awesome time to be a writer. Events such as the Writing Day Workshops give writers the opportunity to network with experts and agents they may have only dreamed about connecting with in the past. Thanks, Jessica and Chuck for your vision and willingness to share your knowledge and expertise in such a hands-on way.

If interested in learning about other writing or networking opportunities, check out this link.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning the journey as a writer? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Now for some more exciting news! My latest children’s book, Tired of Being Obedient, has been released on Amazon.com. If you love dogs, you will love this book. Be sure to check out training tips by professional trainers in the back. Thanks, Glenn Sherrill of Train Play Live dog training for your willingness to be a part of this project.






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Favorite #139: Cool Springs Elementary School


Having a great day with students at Cool Springs Elementary School.

Having a great day with students at Cool Springs Elementary School.

          Sharing Ideas

A few weeks ago, Veronica Williams, the librarian at Cool Springs Elementary School in the Iredell-Statesville School System, invited me to share my children’s books and talk about writing.

Although I live only thirty minutes from Cool Springs Elementary School, I had never been there, so wasn’t sure of the exact location. The drive that morning was a beautiful one winding through rural communities with cow pastures, farmhouses and long stretches of meadows followed by trees.

After my arrival, Ms. Williams helped me unload my car and set up for the day. Looking around the library, I was amazed at the size and beauty of the space. An open area with plenty of room for books, tables and chairs, there was also enough room for children to spread out on the floor to read their chosen selection.

During the presentations, the kindergarten through fifth grade classes were well-behaved and seemed to enjoy our time together. The upper grades had great questions, including how long I had been writing, how long it takes to write a children’s book and where I get my ideas. I shared I often get ideas from students not only because they have great ones, but also because they view life from a different perspective.

A few days later I received an email from Veronica saying, “Dicy, thank you for coming to visit. The students, teachers and staff loved your presentations. They can’t wait to check out your books from the library.”

Veronica also said to let her know when my latest book comes out on Amazon.com. I’m happy to say Tired of Obedient has arrived. If you are a dog lover, you’ll especially appreciate the tips for training dogs in the back submitted by five professional trainers. Remember you help authors not only by purchasing their books, but also writing reviews on Amazon.com and leaving comments on their blog or website.

Thanks, Veronica and Cool Springs Elementary School for inviting me to share my books. Cool Springs is a wonderful school with leadership who understands the importance of literacy in a child’s life. Congratulations on being recognized as a North Carolina School of Distinction with all of the No Child Left Behind AYP target goals met during the last six years.

How do you share the love of reading with others? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com

To read about other school visits, click here.






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Favorite #138: Essential Oils

Lydia, talking to a customer about essential oils.

Lydia, talking to a customer about essential oils.

Nature at Its Best

Lydia Richmond and I have similar interests in that we both are teachers, write children’s books and have a blog. Lydia and I also have an interest in saving the earth through various means such as recycling and reducing the use of harsh chemicals in our homes by using natural products as much as possible.

One of the ways that Lydia has accomplished this is through essential oils. Now working for Simply Aroma, a company that sells essential oils, Lydia invited me to one of her presentations. After explaining I already had plans for that particular evening, Lydia said she’d be willing to come to my house for a demonstration at a later time. When I shared this info with my daughter, Kelly, she volunteered to have a demonstration at her house.

During that demonstration, Lydia explained because essential oils are derived from plants, they are an amazingly effective way to replace toxic, chemical laden medications, cleaning products and personal care items. She said, “It’s easy once you understand their purpose.”She also went on to explain that essential oils have been used for various reasons ever since Bible days, including when the three wise men brought frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.

I was especially interested in the essential oils that have properties to help with relaxation and stress relieve. Lydia shared that lavender is a popular oil people sometimes use in a diffuser for that purpose. Showing first-hand how it works, she put several drops of lavender in the diffuser. Within a few minutes the aroma spread throughout the room. Lydia then shared that lavender is also good for other things, including cleaning and personal care.

Another essential oil Lydia shared that has many benefits is peppermint. One of the things we learned about peppermint is that spiders don’t like it. Although I’m not particularly afraid of spiders, I couldn’t help but wonder what would keep snakes away. Maybe I should have asked Lydia if there’s an essential oil for that.

From Lydia’s presentation, I realized I’d like to learn more about essential oils. She advised because there are different grades of oil on the market, consumers need to be careful. Sometimes what appears to be oil is only fragrance. She also said although essential oils do not replace medical advice or diagnosis, they can in many ways enhance our health and home environment. Overtime Lydia has replaced many of her personal care items, such as soap, deodorant and chapstick with recipes containing essential oils.

Learning that essential oils are derived from plants without harsh chemicals as a part of the process, if you haven’t given essential oils a try, maybe in celebration of Earth Day this week, now would be a great time to start. I’m sure Lydia would be willing to guide you in the right direction.

If interested in learning more about ways to save the environment, check out this link.

In what ways have you used essential oils in your home? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.






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Favorite #137: North Rowan Elementary School Book Clubs

Having a great day with the children at NRES.

Having a great day with the children at NRES. Thank you for letting me share my books.

Books and Fun

Book clubs are a wonderful way for children to connect not only with each other, but also through the books they are reading, possibly inspiring them to read more. This past March, I had the opportunity to share my books with North Rowan Elementary School’s first and second-grade book clubs.

Katie Linker, Title I coordinater for North Rowan Elementary School in Spencer, NC, called a few months ago asking if I would share my books at the book clubs in March. She said not only would she like for me to read, but also share a little about what it’s like to be an author. Katie explained, “When children are given the opportunity to meet an author, it helps them to see they can become one, too.”

After discussing which book to read, Katie suggested I read my third book, Tired of Being Different. She chose that book because children today often struggle with feeling different. Told through the viewpoint of a puppy who barks a lot, Tired of Being Different offers encouragement to children by allowing them to see we all are different in one way or another. In the end, the puppy realizes being different is okay, even getting a medal for saving the day.

The Title I program works together with the Communities in Schools program to sponsor the book clubs each month at North Rowan. Marsha Woods, one of the site-coordinators for the Communities in Schools program, especially enjoys this aspect of her position. Partnering together, the Title I program encourages parent involvement through providing materials for follow-up activites parents can do with their children at home, while the Communities in Schools progam provides the food. In this case, the food was breakfast for both parent and child.

I have discovered that mornings seem to be the perfect time for reflection before the day starts with everyone in a good mood, ready to hear a story. After each presentation, I enjoyed meeting parents and students alike with some asking questions about the process of writing and publishing. Hopefully, my answers were an inspiration to future authors in attendance.

What experiences have you had with book clubs in your school? Do you have other suggestions for ways to inspire children to read? I’d love to hear your ideas, so leave a comment below, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com











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Favorite #136: Easter

Easter, a day of hope and remembrance.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Easter, a day of hope and remembrance.

          Hope and Love

Walking this journey for seven months now as a widow, I’ve discovered like many who’ve been there before, the holidays are the hardest. Memories from years past and the activities of those seasons remind me of my loss. Then, again, they also remind me of my gain. Without the love Michael and I shared, I wouldn’t have my children or grandchildren, or the memories of our years together. While it’s bittersweet, I am reminded because of Easter, I’ll see Michael again.

During devotions this morning while reading the Easter story in the book of John, I found one of the main themes was love. Although Jesus knew the cross was his to bare, he still took time to show love by washing the disciples’ feet. That said to me that even in our time of grief, we need to reach out to others, for it’s in that kind of love we can start to heal.

When asking friends and family what Easter means to them, of course, some of the children said Easter bunnies and candy, while many of the adults said hope for eternal life. In a children’s sermon at Franklin Baptist Church, Pastor Joe tried to explain the meaning of Easter through the different colors of the cloths that had been draped on the cross.

The one color the children knew without being told was black, promptly saying it stood for darkness and the tomb. When asked what purple meant, one child said, “Majesty.” Pastor Joe said she was right because in ancient times purple stood for royalty and that Jesus was “King.”

Depending on the congregation, white can represent different things. Some congregations view it as representing the sinless life Jesus lived, while others see it as representing resurrection and the defeat of death and the grave. Whatever these colors mean to you, the one constant in all of this is the cross.

Even though there have been moments of sadness for me during the last seven months, there have also been moments of hope. When I look into the eyes of my grandchildren, I’m reminded there’s still life to be lived and a purpose for which I’m called. Jesus died so we can live and love and that’s what Easter means to me.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you … (John 13: 34a, KJV).

What does Easter mean to you? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com






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Favorite #135: Teacher of the Year

Cleveland Elementary School honoring the best of the best.

Cleveland Elementary School honoring the best of the best.

      A Time to Be Proud

Some weeks it’s harder than others to find a favorite person, place or thing to write about. Although I had several choices for this week, I just couldn’t quite narrow down one. Some people would call that writer’s block. When I was almost to the point of not posting a favorite this week, that’s when I saw my inspiration.

Browsing through Facebook late Sunday evening, I noticed a post by Mike Gurley. His wife, Annette, and I have been friends for many years and at one time colleagues when I taught music at Cleveland Elementary School, in Cleveland, NC. This spring, Annette was voted Teacher of the Year. While that in itself is an accomplishment and something to be proud of, that’s not all of the story.

Mike was so proud of Annette, he posted a photo of the school sign on his Facebook page, revealing Annette as Teacher of the Year and Patricia Watson as Teacher Assistant of the Year. Mike is a teacher and basketball coach at West Rowan High School, so he understands the stress of the classroom environment. As a result, he realizes what an accomplishment it is to be chosen for these honors by your peers.

If posting the photo was not enough, Mike also included the following caption … Normally signs advertising food specials draw my attention like “2 for $2″ or “all you can eat for $7.50,” but this sign is better than all of them!! And I have one thing to say, “that’s my wife!!”…yea!!!

After seeing the above photo and reading Mike’s comments, I asked permission to use them on my blog. Mike said that was fine and then added, “There are many evenings after a day of teaching and coaching that I come home, sit down to rest/sleep or watch tv. Annette, on the other hand, is still preparing lesson plans for the next day. Her work ethic and caring nature have inspired me to work harder to be the best I can be.”

Almost as an after thought, he said, “Thank goodness for high school planning periods.”

Good point, Mike. Unlike high school and middle school teachers, elementary school teachers don’t get planning periods everyday and often take work home to complete. Like Annette, they do it because they love their students and teaching.

Congratulations, Annette for your achievement as Teacher of the Year and for having a husband who loves and supports you.

In what ways have you recently shown love and support for your husband or wife?

Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.






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Favorite #134: Bathtime

Bath time is lots of fun for everyone.

Bath time is fun for everyone.

A Little Boy and a Dirty Dog

Several weeks ago, I shared my children’s books with an Early Childhood Language and Literacy Experiences class at Mitchell Community College in Mooresville, NC. That night, I read my first book, Tired of My Bath. A few days later, one of the students in the class, Decota Rasnick, sent me an email explaining what happened when she got home later that night. I was so touched by her email; I asked permission to share.


First and foremost, thank you for coming to speak (and read) to our class last night at Mitchell Community College! It was so nice learning about you and your books!

You truly are an inspiration to others! I thought I would share a little story about what happened after class, and hearing you speak.

Last night, after I finally got home from work and school (Tuesdays are my “bad” day. I work all day, and then go to school, and usually do not get home until around 8:15 or so, which means my kids are either already in bed, or cranky and waiting on me to put them down) my son and I let our dog (a pitbull) outside one last time before bedtime. Link, our dog, is not a “digger.” He only digs on very rare occasions, and when he does spend the time digging (or the few times that he has in the past couple of years), he usually surfaces, very proudly, with some sort of prize.

Being late, and as muddy as it was last night, as soon as we realized he was digging we made him stop and come back inside; however, it was not soon enough to prevent having to put him into the bath tub and give him a bath. There was mud everywhere! Fortunately, our dog does well in the bath. Link sits very still and rarely tries to escape. Between attempting to get my dog clean, and having to work around my son, Rylan, (who is four now, and clearly in that stage of wanting, and thinking he can do everything that any adult does, on his own, without any help) I managed to snap a picture.

Although I am not sure how I even found the energy, or the time, last night to scroll through my Facebook, I ended up posting the picture of my son and his dog in the bath. Not anything too surprising, except for the tiny little poem I posted to caption the picture. It read:

“…Because when your dog decides its time to dig to China, it might be late at night, and you might [just might] have to bathe him, much against his delight…”

Although posting the picture was not out of character for me, taking the time, or even subconsciously thinking about posting the tiny little poem was out of character, and something I quite frankly, just do not usually take the time to do. The normal description would have been something like, “Bath Time.”

You, and your discussion with our class inspired this, and I just wanted to thank you. When I go back and read the poem I wrote last night, the memories are much more clear. The imagery and scenes in my head are much clearer, and I can remember so much more about the entire situation, because I chose to change the perspective in which I was looking at the situation.

I found it entirely coincidental that we just happened to have read your book, Tired of My Bath.  At 10 pm last night, I was faced with a very dirty dog, and a very independent four year old (who at the time was really just “getting in my way”). Very quickly, I started thinking about the book, and the lesson…. this is life, and this is my life. While I was drained, and “tired” of the day in general, thinking about your talk, your books, and your lessons made me (at 23 years old) rethink the situation, and ended up very happy and smiling at the memories we made (even at 10 pm on my “bad” night). I could have looked at the situation in a negative way, but didn’t. I mean, really who wants to give their (very large) dog a bath at 10 pm after they have been at work/school for well over 12 hours?

Again, thank you so much for your time! I am looking forward to reading your books to my children (I have two boys, ages 4 and 1), and following you on Facebook, as well as your blog.

Decota, thank you for your email and for making my day. Writing a book is only the beginning. Hearing stories like yours is what makes being an author so rewarding.

Thanks again,




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Favorite #133: Honors Chorus

Music teachers performing with the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Honors Chorus.

Music teachers having great fun at the Fifth Grade Honors Chorus Festival.

Fifth Grade Honors Chorus under the direction of Sally Albrecht.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Fifth-Grade Honors Chorus under the direction of Sally Albrecht.


Making Music and Memories 

Congratulations to the Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Fifth-Grade Honors Chorus for a fabulous performance during their recent festival at West Rowan High School in Mt Ulla, NC. Approximately 200 fifth-grade students filled the auditorium on March 14th with melodies that made friends and family proud.

Twelve years ago, music teachers, Beth Yelvington and Lucy Shue had the vision for a county-wide fifth-grade Honors Chorus. Taking the initiative to write a grant for necessary funding for music, transportation, food, and a clinician, they applied for a Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation grant. After receiving the grant and with a successful festival that first year, they reapplied, continuing the tradition for a total of eleven festivals.

Students who want to be a member of the fifth-grade Honors Chorus must first audition at their individual schools. When chosen they are given a selection of music to memorize and learn. Music teachers practice with their students, usually after school, on technique and musicality. The first practice with the entire Honors Chorus is from noon to 5:00 the Friday before the Saturday performance. Held at a local high school under the direction of a professional clinician, students learn phrasing, blending voices, harmony, and choreography. Although tired from a Friday practice, students arrive Saturday morning, excited and ready for a full day, knowing the concert performance is that afternoon. The progress they make in just two days is amazing. It’s almost like a transformation of individuals joining together as one for a performance of a lifetime.

Sally Albrecht, an internationally known choral composer, conductor, and clinician was   chosen as the clinician for the first festival because of her knowledge and expertise working with this age group. Achieving high expectations of musicality in a way children can understand and yet have fun in the process, Sally set the standard so high that first year she has been the clinician of choice for the majority of the festivals since then.

When asking Beth what her favorite part of the process has been through the years, she said seeing the enthusiasm of the students. Pausing for a minute, she then said, “Although tired from practicing five hours on the first day, students still are willing to get up the next morning and give it their all. The performance is just the icing on the cake.”

Having had the opportunity to be a part of the Honors Chorus in previous years as a music teacher for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools, I know what Beth is talking about. The look in each child’s eyes as they perform on stage for family and friends is pure joy. Even though it is hard work, the effort is so worth it. Students never forget that one shining moment, and who knows, that could be the catalyst for a future career in music and the dream lives on.

Were you a member of a chorus or band? What are your favorite memories? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com





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Favorite #132: Early Childhood Educators

A night of sharing books and fun at Mitchell Community College/Mooresville Campus.

A night of sharing books and fun at Mitchell Community College/Mooresville Campus.

Language and Literacy

Donna Hogue is an Early Childhood instructor at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, NC. Recently, I and another children’s author, Lydia Steele Richmond, had the opportunity to visit and share our books in Donna’s EDU 280 Language and Literacy Experiences class at Mitchell’s Mooresville campus.

Donna explained since her students had just completed a chapter about reading and storytelling, she thought asking us to read would be a great opportunity for them to observe firsthand some of the elements in reading to children. These include how to gain and keep attention, hand gestures and voice inflection.

Lydia shared first, explaining how she liked to incorporate real-life situations in her book and stories. Living in Germany as a child, Lydia said she had great memories of childhood play and friendships. Pulling from those memories in developing the characters and relationships in her book, A Day to Remember, she even used names of real friends for the characters in her story.

After gaining everyone’s attention by explaining the backstory first, Lydia then began to read, slowing down and using emphasis at important points in the story. While the death of a loved one may be hard for a child to understand, Lydia’s book deals with that kind of loss in a way children can understand and accept. In this story, the loved one who passed was an elderly neighbor lady. After much discussion by the BFF’s, it was decided the best way to honor the neighbor’s memory was to care for her beloved grapevine. Although the friend was gone, her memory would live on through actions of love and caring.

Donna’s students loved the story, asking questions not only about plot and character development, but also about the writing process. Lydia shared she’s thinking of writing a second book, using the friendships developed in A Day to Remember as the catalyst. She said the theme for the next book will probably be the hot topic of bullying.

After Lydia’s presentation, it was my turn to share. While Lydia’s book is in narrative form, my books are written in rhythm and rhyme. Deciding to read my first book, Tired of My Bath, with that story having funny twists, I couldn’t wait to watch the faces and hear the laughter in all the right places. Each of my five books have a moral lesson and in Tired of My Bath, the lesson is listen to your mom.

The hour-and-a-half class passed quickly, with the night ending with questions, a few photos and some students even purchasing books. It was obvious by comments during and after class that the students were passionate about their chosen field, eager to learn and be the best they could be. Donna said early childhood educators are always passionate about their chosen field. I totally agree. There’s just something special about people who work with young children. God bless everyone of them.

Next week I plan to share a letter from one of the students in the EDU class who sent me an email about an experience she had later that night after hearing, Tired of My Bath. Be sure to check out next week’s blog. Thanks Donna for the invitation to read to your class. I can’t wait until next time.

Do you know someone who is an Early Childhood Educator? Have you volunteered in their classroom, or helped their program in someway? What was that experience like? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com





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