Friday, August 28, 2009

Introducing our Five... YA author Tera Lynn Childs


Changing the world is a little overwhelming. I mean, what can I--one little person in a world of six billion--actually do? That's what I love about Kay's Living Your Five concept. It's a way to empower every one of us to fix the things we care about most. One little step at a time.

The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.
- Lao Tse

Actually deciding on my Five has been tough, because sometimes all I see are things that I wish were eradicated. War and genocide. Homelessness and poverty. Animal cruelty and child abuse. In the end, though, I took to heart Kay's insistence that our Fives should be the things we are most passionate about, and that took a lot of soul searching.

After thinking and rethinking and rearranging, I've finally decided on the five causes that truly resonate with me and that I would like to be part of. Here are my first steps on a journey to change the world:

1. Going Green

My family spent a lot of time camping and in National Parks while I was growing up, so concern for the environment has always be a part of me. Add to that the fact that I spent formative years in California (home of droughts, water rations, and water conservation lesson plans) and that I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder (one of the most environmentally motivated schools in the country), it's really no wonder that this is first on my list.

Going green means more than just buying recycled toilet paper and replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (although both are totally awesome steps to a greener life!). To me, those steps are almost givens. I also want to take my green living a step further. I want to reduce and offset my carbon footprint, donate time and money to groups who protect and clean up the environment, and incorporate more recycled and organic products into my everyday living.

2. Teach a Man to Fish

When I was in high school, I bought a t-shirt with the quote:

Give a man a fish
and you feed him for a day,
teach a man to fish
and you feed him for life.

At the time it was just a slogan to me, but over time I've come to realize the significance behind it's meaning. In a world suffering from poverty and famine, charity only goes so far. A one-time donation only lasts so long. But teaching a person or family or community how to become self-sufficient is a gift that can last for generations.

The organization that embodies this belief the most for me is Heifer International. I won't go into depth about their mission now, but I know that this is a group whose works I want to support in every possible way. And, if there are other groups out there who are promoting self-sufficiency and independence I'd love to find and help them as well. Because, in my mind, independence = hope.

3. Disaster Relief

Living in the Houston area, hurricanes are a way of life, but they never really hit home for me until I lived through Hurricane Ike last year. What was even more horrifying than the hurricane himself (and let me tell you, that was pretty horrifying) was the aftermath. Driving through the streets of Houston with traffic lights hanging down to the road. Making sure I was home before the citywide curfew. Having to boil water for a week because the water supply might have been compromised. Friends were without power for weeks, others lost their homes, their cars, their pets. The truth is, the story is only just beginning when the news vans roll out of town.

Having experienced first hand the domino effect of a natural disaster, I feel a kinship with others suffering through the same. When disasters strike, I want to do what I can to help those affected, whether that means donating time, money, blood, supplies, or more. I may not be able to plan for this Five, but I'll be ready to act.

4. Historic Preservation

Did you know that 150 years ago, Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate, was in such a state of neglect and disrepair that we were in danger of losing it forever? Or that Philadelphia's Independence Hall was once at risk of demolition? These buildings are monuments to major moments in history, and I can't imagine why anyone would choose to tear down and start over when the buildings of the past are so rich and full of history. But it happens every day.

For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with history and, especially, historic architecture. I love wandering through the oldest parts of town, studying or photographing the interesting buildings from times past. My love of historic architecture is so strong that I studied historic preservation, the saving of significant old buildings, in graduate school.

Even though my personal path led me to a career in writing, rather than one in historic preservation, my passion for old building remains and I am committed to helping ensure their presence for generations to come. That might mean volunteering my time with a local preservation committee, donating funds to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, or distributing information about buildings in danger to others who might be able to help.

5. Writing Mentorship

When I first realized that writing was my future, I was lucky enough to find a group of local authors (aspiring and published) who willingly and without hesitation provided me with the support I needed to pursue this career. Because I am so thankful to these wonderful ladies--and because, having achieved my dream, I would like to help others do the same--I find myself very passionate about mentoring other writers.

I already take the opportunity to teach workshops, speak at schools, and answer emails from aspiring authors, but I want to take it a step further. Whether it's posting a blog or vlog about a writing topic, starting or working with an after school writing program, or other ways I haven't discovered yet, I'd like to do more to help other writers reach their goals. I want to help others experience the joy of getting The Call.

Okay, so now you know my Five. Do these match up with any of your passionate causes? Comment below for your chance to win your choice of a signed hardcover copy of Oh. My. Gods. or Goddess Boot Camp. The winner will be announced tomorrow along with the winners of Kay, Alyson, and Becca's giveaways and the launch week grand prize winner.

Are you ready to Live Your Five?



  1. I love the Writer Mentorship idea; using your own skills, knowledge, and experience to help others do what they love makes perfect sense. It's a great idea!

    Good luck with your five!

  2. Hello, Tera!

    D. D. Scott here!

    Well done w/your Five!

    As a new vegan, I'm totally w/u on the going organic goal. I've spent a bunch of time lately studying our food supply, and I'm horrified how food gets to our table if we choose to go non-organic. Wow! I'm actually shocked and appalled at what we're convinced and persuaded is "good" for our bodies!

    I'm also "write" w/u on helping other writers achieve their dreams (no matter the level they're currently at). This is one of the reasons I created my Muse Therapy classes. I've developed a way to help writers rein in their creative divas. Fun stuff!

    Best of wishes to you in making your Five your reality.

    Sexy, Sassy, Smart Fiver Wishes --- D. D. Scott

  3. Going Green
    Teach a Man to Fish

    Love both of those. We are trying to implement GREEN AT HOME-that my number one. It is a learning process, some habits are hard to break, especially in kids.
    Teach a man to fish, I might use that one too. More soul searching to do. I really need six.

  4. Again, another thoughtful and inspiring "five"! I agree with you on the historic preservation one - for me I hate to see any kind of structure that is so rich in history and memories torn down. It's so fascinating to see and touch and walk through the walls of places where those before us embarked on great endeavors. Keeping alive history is keeping alive the spirit of our past and remembering the good, the bad and what's lead us here today.

    I really resonate with all your five and I'm also going to have a look at the Heifer International that you mentioned!

  5. I think that historic preservation is a really interesting one. I live in a place where a lot of people care about the historic preservation of buildings/houses. Although every little extra bit helps.

    It's also great that you're taking extra steps toward going green. There are a lot of little steps people can take to help them to achieve this (like raising the temp of the air conditioning a few degrees).

    Thanks for sharing your five

  6. I love the idea of teaching a man how to fish. I too believe that independance is equal to hope, especially for the future and kids. I'm thinking of looking into Heifer International- it sounds really interesting. :)

    I think the writing mentorship is also a wonderful idea!

    Great five!
    - Alex

  7. I'm all about number 2. In fact, one year I made donations to Heifer International in the names of all of my friends and family and bought smaller Christmas gifts. I think I'm going to have to do that again this year!

  8. Disaster Relief
    I think it is really important . I try to donate to charities that do help animals during these events. A part of my paycheck goes to petmart charity which helps provide disaster relief. I also organized a clothing drive for poor countries who have had disaster with my local rotatory when i was eleven. This is a cause I am passionate about.

  9. I extremely love the fact both all of you want to go green and will try your best. Disaster relief is great too. Here in my country a lot people have to suffer from flood and hurricane very often so I think it's really important.

  10. Disaster relief is a great one. I too live in the Houston area and survived Ike. Before we moved here we lived in MO and survived an F4 tornado going directly over our house while we were in it.

    Natural disasters don't just bring out the best in a community, but brings out the best in humanity. The human heart sometimes needs a reminder of how to reach out.

  11. Fabulous Five Tera!

    I love them all because they are about being aware and acting out of a place of love. Preservation of the earth and history are so important, as is empowering others to become the best they can be.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Now on to clarifying the Five I will live by!
    --Elizabeth Fais

  12. I love these, Tera!

    Giving gifts that keep on giving is a wonderful idea. I love organizations that help people to learn and grow in ways that will help them build better lives.

    I also believe that natural disasters put intense pressure on people and it's how we find out who we really are or who we can become.

    So proud of you and this effort!



  13. Hey Tera,

    So I love the Historical Preservation idea. I think remembering and learning about the past is extremely important and we can learn a lot about life by looking into our past. I love digging into my family history by looking at old pictures and listening to stories.

  14. I completely agree with the historic preservation as I love history and teaching a man to fish. They're very different but very effective.

  15. Did you know that both of your quotes have been attributed to Lao Tse or Laozi (or Lao-Tzu), generally regarded as important in the founding of Taosim?

  16. Hi Tera,

    I am another one who loves the writer mentorship idea! I feel blessed to have found a wonderful supportive community and once I know enough to give back, I would love to pitch in!

  17. I love your Five, Tera! They're so brilliantly YOU. :-) And yay for Heifer International! It's one of my favorite charities for exactly the reason you shared - it's about changing entire communities for a lifetime. How can we not love that?

  18. OOOOOOH I adore your five, Tera! The concept of teaching self-dependence instead of just handouts is brilliant, and YAY for writing mentorships. I think it's fabulous that you've found something you love doing, and are willing to help other people love it just as much! Plus historic preservation? Why didn't I think of that? It's essential we don't forget our past - the mistakes AND the victories - so it's our job to keep the reminders around. Great stuff! =)

  19. I love your Five! Especially the parts about teaching people to be self-sufficient and preserving historic buildings. Those are things most people don't usually think about. Thanks for sharing :D


  20. I love your 5, especially the writing mentorship that's such a nice idea.

  21. This is a fantastic post and I love your passion and your sharing of the 5.

  22. Your five are amazing! I love that you want to give back to other writers. Such a great idea.

  23. I absolutely love the concept of mentoring other writers. Someday, I'd like to teach a creative writing class so I can do something similar. I love helping people brainstorm and work through their story problems. It's an amazing feeling knowing you helped better someone else's story, and perhaps their writing as a whole. ^_^

  24. I have your "going green" as one of my five. I like your historic preservation, it is important to the future generations. Overall you have a solid list of your five.

  25. I love the mentoring idea. I think collaboration and encouragement is always wonderful.

  26. Historic Preservation is amazing. I love history and would hate to see some of our history thrown out the window for some newer buildings! There are some old buildings here in my town that when I pass them by, I always have to look at their beauty.

    The mentoring idea is wonderful. I am in the middle of a book and was actually just wondering how all authors seem to know each other and helped each other out with their writings. There's no groups around here, I checked and for classes it's over $200. That's crazy! So, you get an A+ on your list!

  27. That second one, Teach a man to fish... that was so true. People can't thrive off charity; they only last for so long. Which is why people can be not just the hand that gives, but the hand that guides.

  28. I find that if one person begins change, others follow. You or anybody else can change the world if you truly believe in it.

    I definitely agree with going green! Heck, I agree with your whole list! I try to remind my friends and family to recycle, reuse, etc and they get irritated because they already KNOW. I agree with independance = hope, but having someone there alongside you is comforting - knowing that you're not alone and all. I cannot wait for this list to go into action! Good luck! (:

    - Chelsea

  29. Love the quote. My school actually had a donation set up to raise money to pay for livestock in other countries

  30. Your reference to Heifer International reminded me of Kiva, the micro-loaning website. They loan money to individuals in 3rd world countries so they can start their own business and make a better life for themselves. It's one of those things I've thought about and need to start participating in!

    neohippy10 hotmail

  31. Great idea! Since reading is our passion (really) what my family does is that we give away our magazines to the Salvation Army. Then for the books we don't want, we give them to the library. It's great, cos they'll have their yearly library sale and we can get books that way too! SOmetimes even our own books. xD

  32. I absolutely love your five. All of them! I think you made some really great choices.


  33. Definitely with the Writer Mentorship. I may not be the best yet but I try to share my passion. Once school gets started I'm going to look into tutoring kids in English and writing and also teach a writing class at the library for 4th and 5th graders.

  34. I love these five. They sound really awesome.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  35. Another great 5! This has had me thinking about about my five should be. I will continue to hash this through, and come up with a final five!

    1. Go more Green! I have been one that has contributed to the idea of conservation, in its many forms. Because walking, riding a bike are not feasible here, and public transportation is non-existent, I bought a hybrid vehicle, an SUV one, but hybrid none-the-less.

    now... on to the final four....

  36. To all four of you--this is such a terrific idea for a blog! I haven't posted until now, but I've been so impressed with the fives this week. Congrats! Love, love, love reading positive stuff--I'll be back! BTW, Tera, please don't put me in a drawing for your books--you know I proudly already own and have read them both and recommend them to everyone! ;)

  37. Go you! Those are all great. It seems like you'll be donating a lot of time and money into some great projects. Hopefully we won't have any crazy disasters this year, but it's good that you're prepared to do what you can to help.

  38. These were very nice! I think number 5 is wicked amazing!!!

  39. I really enjoyed your post Tera. You came at your five from a slightly different perspective than I did for mine, and I really enjoyed that difference.


  40. Teach a man to fish. I like that one a lot. Especially as I sit here reading Cinderella Story - it's like a manual and I'm already listing girls I want to give it to. I think that's something I might need to start here...

    I want to thank you guys for doing this. It is so awesome.

  41. Thank you so much, everyone, for your wonderful and encouraging comments. It's scary to put your passions on a platter for the world to see, but I'm glad I did. I can't wait to see what we can all accomplish together!

  42. loved ur five
    fish thing kinda funny

    hope i win one of ur books!! they seem really good!!

  43. love to read eiter book!

  44. I never thought about the historic preservation one, but it is a really great cause! I wish you'd come speak at my school! Only one author has ever spoken there in the 5 years I've been at the school. :(

  45. Hi, Tera!

    I love the "teach a man to feed" idea. It would help families and the economy a lot, too. :)

  46. I love the writing mentorship idea. There's nothing better than spreading your own talents among the writers of tomorrow:)

  47. I love the Teach a man to fish quote.
    My class did a fundraiser sort of thing for the Heifer International.

    and i loved Oh. My. Gods. Cant wait to read Godess Bootcamp

  48. Thanks so much for the website I think it will bring a lot of attention to world problems!


  49. hi tera,

    i read your book, and i LOVED it!!! i do track, so i could relate to her. :)here is my five:

    1) one thing im notorious for, is WAISTING FOOD!!!! like last night, i had smoothie, and didnt drink 1/5 of the thingy... haha. So i hereby Lizzye Bushong, am REALLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYY gonna try not to waste food! ;) does giving the leftovers of frenchfries to your dog count??? jk.

    2)One thingy i sometimes have trouble with is comparing my self to other people... its bad i know. I will look at someone, and say to myself.."wow.. they are gorgeous!" and it kinda makes me feel crappy... but i will commit myself.. To NOT compare myself to other people... because im putting MYSELF down.. and that just gives off bad energy.

    3) middle school is HARD! i know it sister!!! there is always the "IN" or the "OUT" crowd... im probly a combo of both... but i always hate it when others make fun of other people... sometimes my friends do, and it just gets on my NERVES! i know im not good either... but i promise, that i will reach out and help others, hence not putting myself down and taking them with me. :)

    4) im a vegetarian.. except i still love seafood. salmon.. is just TOO hard to get rid of!!! but i promise i will not take those other poor innocent animal's lives (i sound really corny and spiritual... but i making a statement people). vegitarians... keep on truckin! haha :D

    5)my final thing that i will do or try rrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaallly try hard to HOPEFULLY do.. is (drum roll please), is to unplug all the random house hold objects that really dont need to be plugged in constantly as in: cell phone charger, straightner, hairdryer, radio, lava lamp (lol), other lamps, toaster, coffee maker.. EXC! :)

    thanks tera! :)

    -Lizzye bushong at

  50. Thanks for sharing. Yay for going green. The historical preservation one is very interesting and uncommon. I like it.


  51. Hii Tera!

    I loved your fives, especially Going Green and Teaching a Man How to Fish.
    Those are things I expire to do (actually, the second one is a thing I'm already doing, but don't seem to be getting so much success in it =/)

    juiceb0xx at hotmail dot com

  52. Hey Tera!

    Great five. I'm a Hurrican Ike survivor too. Yes, the aftermath was much worse. I live on the League City/Dickinson border. Scary times that I won't soon forget. Disaster relief is so important. Being that I was 3 when Hurrican Alicia came to town, I had no idea what to expect after the storm cleared. It was an eye-opening experience.