Friday, February 28, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Through the eyes of a child

Members of the Tiger Scout Pack 713 visit the Grove Sun office on Thursday, Feb. 20, to earn their communications badge. Students had a chance to see how a digital and print newspaper works. Have a group of students needing to earn a merit badge for a media-related topic? Tours are available for local groups by appointment. 

* * * 

Last week I had an awesome opportunity. I had the chance to give members of Tiger Scout Pack 713 a tour of the Grove Sun office.

Unlike past newspapers I've worked for - that still had the cool presses and layout tables - the Grove Sun's newsroom can be summed up in two words: my desk.

As the boys crowded around the desk, I showed them how to take photos from my phone to upload to Facebook, and how to create a story for our website.

It was all part of a tour designed to help the kidlets earn their communication badge. While young, mainly first grader boys, and well, a bit rowdy (to the chagrin of their parents) it was a fun evening.

One thing to remember when asking kidlets questions - be ready for their answers. I asked the group "what do you know about newspapers?" The response from one young man "they have lots of words and are boring." I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.

To the troop leaders who invited me to meet your crew, and give them the tour, thank you. It was pleasure to meet with your group, answer their random questions and show off a few of the things I do on a daily basis.

Most of the kidlets in Grove are learning to know me as the "newspaper lady" which becomes quite fun as I see them at different events. Their enthusiasm for life becomes quite contagious.

As I approach my one year anniversary with the paper (April 20), I'm glad to live in town where I can share life with the people around me. Thanks for helping Grove truly feel like home.

So, if your group of kidlets needs to tour a newspaper to learn about journalism, social media, photograph or just to see "behind the curtain" of how we do things at the paper, let me know. We're happy to work out a time when you can stop by the office.

Girl Scout Cookies are in town

In case you missed it, boxes and boxes and boxes of Girl Scout cookies have arrived in Grove.

I have on good authority from scout leaders that you can get your "fix" in this weekend thanks to booth sales at Walmart, Harps and other locations throughout the area.

For those of you who plan to give up sweets for Lent, you have until Tuesday to purchase and eat your stash - because Ash Wednesday is well, Wednesday!

A personal favor

Last year, I wrote a column about Canaan, a kidlet in my life, who needed a bone marrow transplant.

Canaan had his transplant and has been recovering in Houston. Test results earlier this week have raised concerns that he may be rejecting his transplant.

If you could remember Canaan, and well, everyone who might be facing the need for an organ transplant or might be recovering from treatment.

One last thing

Starting next week, in the Grove Sun, you'll find an ad featuring well, a movie trivia question. We'll explain how the contest will work in Tuesday's paper, but the basic jist is this - bring in the answer to the question of the day and you'll be entered in a drawing for a pair of movie tickets we'll award at the end of March.

Happy welcome back and boat show weekend. Hopefully March will bring sunnier days - cause I don't know about you, but I'm ready for flip flop weather again!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Connections


Life is truly a small world. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us how interconnected we are in this world.

As the Amber Alert went out for 10-year-old Haliey Owens, her photo began popping up on the social media accounts of friends in southwest Missouri.

Then like the ripples in a pebble tossed pond, the word began to spread - especially after Kansas and Oklahoma media were added to the Amber Alert.

We live in a vast interconnected world.

We laugh and celebrate together. We cry and mourn together.

My heart breaks for the family of Owens. It cries out for my friends who work within the Springfield school system and for those who have direct connections with the family.

Sometimes living in a community hurts.

In the wake of a tragedy like this, I know my immediate reaction is to grab my loved ones, hold them tight and well, find a hole and not come out.

But isolation is not the answer.

One of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, penned a book, No Man Is An Island during his writing career. The jist of it is this. We cannot live without connections. We need each other — not only to share our joys, but also our sadness.

I wish I knew why things happen. I guess I'll add this to my "long list" of questions that have no answers.

Evil exists in the world. It's a fact. But here's the deal, we cannot let it win.

If we isolate ourselves, turn on each other, become suspicious, and frankly look for monsters behind every nook and cranny, evil wins.

I think Grove Police Chief Mark Morris summed it up best yesterday.

We need to educate ourselves and be aware of our surroundings — but we can't scare ourselves (or our children).

Monsters may not come with signs that say "I'm evil, run from me." They don't look like the zombies on Walking Dead. Sometimes they masquerade as people we would least expect.

We need to educate ourselves, we need to talk to the kidlets in our lives. We need to step out of our isolation and band together with our community. This means not only reporting suspicious behavior but also coming together to celebrate life.

Yes, evil won in this case. But in reality, the good is shining through.

From the Springfield (Mo.) Department's Facebook page: "We would like to thank all of you, the Springfield community, as well as the dozens of communities near and far that helped spread the word of Hailey's abduction. You often witness the strength of a community in the way they handle a tragic situation, and we couldn't be more proud of the citizens' concern and assistance in this matter. ... We certainly wish more than anything that this event could have had a different conclusion. If there's any positive news in this at all, it's that the suspect is no longer on the streets of Springfield. Please keep the family and friends of Hailey in your thoughts and prayers."

I think, more and more, I'm going to need to rely on a verse a friend reminded me of yesterday.

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love." — 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT)

I don't see things clearly right now. Evil has clouded the view for the moment. But I know that ultimately, faith, hope and love can, and will win - we just have to be willing to puzzle through the murky times in life to find them.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the Feb. 21, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Smitten (Review)

When I had a chance to review this book, I jumped on it. Honestly, I love all four of the authors who contributed stories to it.

I thought, it will be a fun book to read, I'll enjoy it, go for it.

Ok, I'll start with what I liked.

The idea of a group of friends having a book club, reading a joint book is just intriguing.

To have a group of friends you are so close to and can share with in this way sounds very inviting.

I really wanted to like this book. Like I said, I liked books by all of these authors.

Some how, though, I just didn't get the book. I didn't connect with the storyline. I tried. Really, I tried.

Ultimately, though here's what I know. This is a fun book. The authors are solid. If you like a light, fun read, this book is for you.

I'm not sure why it didn't "click" for me. Like I said, I like all of these authors. Here's what I know. If you like this group of writers, it's at least worth a look.

About The Book
The century-old Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.

Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends' romantic exploits.

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

What's more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold---exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?

In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman's Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

Purchase a copy:

Meet the authors:
RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.

Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants.

Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including A Cowboy's Touch and Sweetwater Gap. She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana.

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate. Diann lost her courageous battle with cancer in December 2013.

Smitten Book Club 
Kindle Fire Giveaway, 
Facebook Party and Saturday Brunch

The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)

So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER 

and increase your chances of winning. 

Hope to see you on the 20th!

Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch 
on March 22nd!

Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt

Read more reviews online at:

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this e-book by Litfuse Publicity. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
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