Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing Prompt/Have Fun Thinking Sun with Connie Goldsmith

With the prospect of a long, dismal New York winter peeking around the corner, I like to steal as much last-minute sun as I possibly can.

However, as with everything else, there is both a good way and a bad way to capture the sun. Fortunately, I have writing pal Connie Goldsmith here today to share some fun ways to think sun and writing about it AND some ways to avoid damaging your skin and/or risking skin cancer!

Writing Prompt
Think - SUN

Think of a day when you spent time in the sun. Were you stretched out on a towel at the beach or a pool? Bobbing in a boat on a lake, or water skiing in the ocean? Were you just a kid, a teen on a date, or a parent with a child? Find a nice memory about the sun and write ten words associated with that memory.

Put two of those words together into a sentence or two that describes your day. Then pick two other words and write another couple of sentences.

Try to include all of your senses:
Sight (sparkling water? colorful umbrellas?)
Sound (waves? gulls? friends chatting?)
Smell (salt in the air? hotdogs from the concession stand?)
Taste (cold beer or a diet Coke? sweet lemonade?)
Feeling (the slick sheen of Coppertone? a caress?)

Add emotion. How did you feel? Happy? Content? Now write two to three paragraphs about the joy of that sun-filled day. Can you envision that day through the eyes of a child? Maybe it would make a picture book or an article for a parenting publication. Maybe it could be the kick-off point for a middle-grade novel.


I spent my teen years in Sarasota, Florida and have many wonderful memories of days spent at the beach with friends. One day in the 10th grade my BFF and I cut school and went to the beach. A reporter from the local paper wanted our picture (of course, we were cuter and much thinner in those days). We agreed, but only if he didn’t say what day of the week it was. We didn’t want to get in trouble for cutting class. The photo came out with the title, “Two local beauties take in the sun recently at Siesta Beach.” Twenty-five years later my friend had the photo put on a T-shirt and sent it to me – what an amazing gift that was!

Now, I’m a middle-aged writer/nurse who thinks about the sun in a much different way. These days, when I think sun, the words that jump into my mind are ultraviolet radiation and melanoma. That’s what happens when you write a book about skin cancer.

One of my new books from Lerner Publishing is, “USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders: Skin Cancer.” Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is the fastest growing cancer among young people. Many skin cancers can be prevented simply by using sun screen. Don’t think tanning booths are any safer. In 2009 the World Health Organization put tanning booths in the same class of carcinogens as cigarette smoke, mustard gas, and plutonium. Now that’s something to think about!

Protect yourself from skin cancer:

* Slip on a shirt (long-sleeved is best)
* Slop on the sunscreen (at least SPF 15)
* Slap on a hat (wide-brimmed to protect neck and ears)
* Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes

Connie Goldsmith
My new books from Lerner:

Battling Malaria: On the Front Lines Against a Global Killer
USA Today Health Reports: Hepatitis
USA Today Health Reports: Influenza
USA Today Health Reports: Skin Cancer
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  1. What wise advice! I got lots of sunburns as a kid and have since had several precancerous growths removed from my skin. It's a good thing they were caught in time!

  2. Connie's books are terrific--very readable and relevant. Check them out for your student--and for yourself!

  3. @Janet Ann -- I'm glad it was caught in time! @Both Janet & Patricia - Thanks for your comments! I personally loved Connie's guest post --- it was both inspiring, and educational! Thanks for visiting!

  4. Both my parents spent a lot of time outside and had to have precancerous lesions removed from their faces. I've finally convinced my kids (both teenagers) to get serious about protecting their skin from the sun, and I also pushed sun awareness when I was teaching Turkish students in North Cyprus. What frustrates me is that many people tend to see sun awareness as a cosmetic concern, not a way to prevent death.

  5. @Mary -- Thanks for reminding us of this very important concern, Mary! And Connie, thanks for writing such a very important book. Hugs!