for All Ages
by Eileen Birin
While still living
in Chicago, I attended a writing seminar conducted by Dr. Dennis
Hensley, author of seven books and more than fifteen hundred
articles. The meeting focused on how to be a successful
freelancer, and Dr. Hensley made it a point to tell us that he
always carried a notebook, camera and recorder with him wherever
he went, even on vacations, sometimes to the dismay of his wife
and family. He knew there were, and possible even looked for,
One story in
particular, I have never forgotten can be summed up as follows.
While on a
mini-trip driving the scenic back roads of the mid-west, the
Hensleys came across a small town, enhanced with charm and
character. They stopped. With camera and notebook ready, Dr.
Hensley set out to explore the town's historic treasures.
He was fascinated
by what was once a decorative opera house, art deco architectural
style, now in various stages of deterioration, which stood in the
town's center. Therein laid a story.
about the old building, Dr. Hensley was delighted to learn there
was a senior resident who had recently taken it upon herself to
record the history of this turn-of-the-century town, its notable
buildings which included the opera house, as well as, some
celebrated happenings. She was hoping her memoirs and research
would provide younger generations, caught up in fast-paced
progress, an American small town experience.
Dr. Hensley was
even more impressed with the woman herself and once back in his
motel room made a quick long-distance call with a "hold the press"
edict. This woman's article needed to be published in the next
"Now Dennis, wait a
minute," the editor responded. "Why such a rush? Let's wait and
see what the lady comes up with and see if we can actually use the
"But you don't
understand," Dennis exclaimed, "the woman is 101 years old!"
This 101 year old
aspiring writer lived to be 104 and had seven magazine articles
published in the second century of her life. She believed that you
live the first 100 years and then write about your life the second
century. Mark Twain held a similar belief, but his was a 50/50
split - maybe a bit more realistic
I don't recall Dr.
Hensley ever mentioning the woman's name or the name of the town,
but that's not important. What matters is that a centenarian was
able to invest her time and years of experience so wisely.
Wouldn't it be great if we were all so privileged?
With the start of
each new year, this woman for all ages inspired me to start today
fulfilling my own writing dreams and goals. There's no guarantee
I'll be granted a second century of life, but one thing's for
certain, I'm not waiting. TODAY I start the rest of my life,
writing and otherwise.
Put the FUN in Learning!
Ultimate Collection of Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy
Ideas for Tots through Teens
By Kas Winters
Get that Book out of your
Head and into Print
by Kas Winters
An Interview with author,
By Jodi Cisman
PEORIA – Kas Winters lives in a world
without technology. She is a front-runner for a mother’s campaign
to replace cell phones and PS3’s with old wooden spools and
She has deemed herself the Mother of
Family Ideas and conveys it through her book publishing company,
“I feel a real urgent need to get
what I know and do out there to make a difference to families,”
At the top of her endless list of
specialties and interests are inexpensive family activities.
As the oldest of five siblings, a
mother and stepmother of six and grandmother of seven, creative
project ideas are innate.
“These crafts help kids develop their
learning and imagination,” she said. “Kids are not learning how to
think and solve problems anymore.”
She reminisced about the days when a
cardboard box with circles drawn on the top passed as a suitable
“Now, they have the whole kitchen
toy. There’s no imagination required,” she said.
She brings her ideas to the classroom
in an after school program at Ira A.
School in Peoria.
“When I get into the classroom, these
kids don’t even know how to make paper airplanes,” she said. “To
me, that’s just mind boggling.”
Lisa Kluge is a reading specialist
for kindergarten and fourth grade students at the school.
She has been working with Winters for
two years and praised her for her individuality.
other teachers that are very creative, but Kas is a breath of
fresh air because of her enthusiasm,” Kluge said.
Winters utilizes recycled items found
around the house because it is free and forces children to use
“When parents get hit with the
economy and the way things are now, they can’t go to the Toys’R’Us
and spend $50 for a toy,” she said.
Although Winters enjoys working with
children, she would like to spend more time with her first love:
“I realized that writing was like
eating and breathing: I gotta do it,” she said.
Winters has written 15 books,
illustrated 30 and edited 17.
She is currently working on a book
that will help authors “Get That Book out of your Head and Into
“I love doing things with kids at
school but at some point, I am going to run out of energy,” she
Winters admitted that writing her own
book is her favorite outlet.
“The way I see it is if I can help
people get their books published with my book, I’ll have more time
to work on my own stuff,” she said.
Her idea for the book developed after
receiving several e-mails from aspiring authors asking for advice
on how to get their work published.
“Unless your initials are J.K., it’s
going to be hard,” she laughed. “It’s not a gold mine unless you
hit it big.”
Although technology takes the back
seat when doing children’s activities, she feels it could be an
author’s best friend.
“With online capabilities and
publishing software, everybody’s out there writing a book,” she
There are over 86,000 self-publishing
companies on the web, including iUniverse, Lulu and Amazon.
“I know authors who are doing very
well with their books and I know authors who have a bunch sitting
in their garage,” she said.
Whether doing crafts with kids or
getting a book published, Winters is all about the art of penny
“There are a lot of ways to start
without spending a lot of money,” she said.
Encouraging Children to Write
by Kas Winters
How do children learn to
love writing and drawing? For me it began when I was very young. My
father worked in an office where they tossed reams of papers
that were printed on one-side only. Long before the advent of
recycling, he used to bring them home for his kids to write
and draw on the clean sides. There was always a huge stack of
paper available for me to cover with good stuff.
It has been said that you learn to write and
draw by writing and drawing. Having materials at hand enabled
me to do plenty of that! Now I can't guarantee that simply
supplying paper will create a writer or an artist, but it will
keep kids busy doing something fun and productive. Don't
forget to hang their gems on the refrigerator door for all to
Kas Winters, "The Mother of Family Ideas"
Encourage Young Writers Day
Make a "Blank Book" and give it to a child. Simply take several sheets
of blank paper and fold them in half. Then take a sheet of heavier
paper for a cover (if you have some) and fold it in half. Assemble the
blank sheets in a stack with the cover on top. Staple the book together
along the fold. If your stapler doesn't reach, you can use half sheets
of paper instead of full sheets and make a smaller book. When the blank book is done, let your child fill it with words, pictures or both. I
frequently do this with classrooms full of young students and they have
an amazingly good time. They take it very seriously too, I've even had
kindergarten students ask me, "How do you spell "Illustrated by"? If
it's really a great effort, you can make copies and give them to family
members who will appreciate them.
Let's Get Published
An Enchanting Story for Children of All
Ages with Reading-Thinking-Writing Activities
Phoenix Writers' Club
Edited by Eileen Birin