Posts Tagged ‘blog’

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Mom’s Wise Words

December 1, 2015

My mom turns 85 this month, although if you’d met her, you’d swear she was 55. This month’s blog is in her honor.

Mom loves lists. She has on-going lists for the grocery, her daily chores, her weekly and monthly activities. She makes lists of people she needs to call, to thank, and to write. She’s even made lists for all her books, her rock collection, and the kinds of flowers she’s planted. I love my mom and am sharing a list of her wisdom. She’s far too humble to list it herself, but these are five things I know she’d agree to; attributes that she represents.

  1. Love: simple and yet complicated—love yourself, love God, love your family, friends, and your enemies.
  2. Nap: rest well and take care of yourself. Naps also give you time to create.
  3. Appreciate Nature: all of the answers are there.
  4. Get a C: no one is perfect, we learn from our mistakes, and no one does well under constant pressure to get all A’s.
  5. Care: make a difference in the world. It can be as simple as making muffins for a neighbor, volunteering at an event, or writing Congress to demand better resolutions.

Thanks Mom! And Happy Holidays to all.

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Opinion Stirring and Gay Marriage Backlash

September 15, 2015

This past summer I was hired by The Summit Daily to write a regular opinion column. I won’t post them all on my blog (check the SD website if you want to read more), but from time to time, I’ll add a few. Opinions can make us nod or shake our heads, but almost always, they make us think. They stir something inside of us that creates a higher vibrational energy. My hope is that whether or not you agree, that after reading the piece, you’re motivated to write your own opinions. At the end of the day, I want this blog to support you in your own writing, so get stirred up and write away!

Revised from my column, Think Twice:

My oldest daughter attended Silverthorne Elementary as a first-grade student in 2003; at a time when gay weddings were not mainstream, but they happened. In fact, they happened in our family.

My sister-in-law and her partner were married in a civil ceremony in Oregon. Much to our chagrin, especially Ellie’s, they eloped. Like most little girls, Ellie dreamed of fairytale weddings filled with flowers—and little flower girls. To help ease her anger about being robbed a wedding, I suggested that she make a card for them. She did. Using glitter and glue, sparkles and markers, Ellie made a magnificent card of two women in two princess wedding dresses, holding hands and surrounded by wedding bells. After licking the envelope, she bounced her way to school, excited to tell everyone the news.

She came home in tears.

Her friends told her it wasn’t legal, right or even normal. The teacher and I had a chat. A few moms and I had a chat. Most importantly, Ellie and I had a chat. I tried my best to explain the legalities of gay marriage and politics to my 6-year-old, but it fell flat. She didn’t understand.

“Don’t you get married when you love each other?” She wanted to know. “How can someone tell someone else they’re not allowed to be together? There’s nothing wrong with more love in the world.”

I agreed. I still do. And finally, so does our government.

This past summer, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. And with that decision, the country changed. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.” However, the ruling was close (5-4), reflective of the country at large.

Prejudice surrounding gay marriage remains alive and well. In July, a

Denver baker took his case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing that his religious views should be protected and that he should not be forced into making a wedding cake for a gay couple (reminding me of the Seinfeld ‘Soup Nazi’ episode—no gay cake for you!). All jokes aside, cases like these aren’t funny, and discrimination is not a laughing matter. Another anti-gay ballot initiative was filed this July, hoping to redefine all Colorado gay marriages as civil unions. Given the SCOTUS ruling, I don’t believe this will happen, but I’m am concerned about the intolerant and prejudicial thinking from citizens who refuse to accept the law.

In my hometown; Toledo, Ohio, a Municipal Court Judge refused to marry a same-sex couple. When they arrived, they were told that the judge on duty would not perform gay marriages. Toledo is not alone. There are a number of judges and religious clerics refusing to marry same-sex couples. The backlash has begun.

What makes people afraid? What is wrong with more love in the world? If a 6-year-old can see it, why can’t more adults?

For many, the argument against gay marriage is based upon the Bible, but life changes, and events that happened during Biblical times should no longer be used as a measure for today’s trials. We no longer feed people to lions. We no longer support slavery (at least legally). Some of us eat shellfish, and others get divorced. The stories in the Bible are hundreds of years old, and life has changed. I believe that Jesus would have been the first to accept and encourage gay marriage. In his day, he launched a radical practice of love, accepted the voice of women and children, helped lepers and the needy. He welcomed diversity. He welcomed love. It’s time for our society to accept change and forgo fear. WWJD? Support gay marriage, hands down.

Kudos to the many Americans who helped shift consciousness and to SCOTUS for ruling in favor of love and equality. Six-year-olds still might tease, but they can no longer say it’s wrong. Let’s hope the backlash against gay marriage and discriminatory beliefs are finally viewed as unacceptable behavior, and we can all move on.

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The Win: blogging for prizes

August 28, 2012

I never win anything. Wahhhhhh. But recently, my luck flipped.

This summer I caught up on my blog reading and funny enough, one mentioned my name. One of my favorite blogs about writing and publishing, YA HIGHWAY, announced me the winner of a new Kindle Touch and three YA novels. All I’d had to do was answer a few questions. Not bad.

Besides the thrill of the goods, the win made me realize that reading blogs matter, especially blogs in your field. Like most people, I don’t have a lot of time. Three kids make sure of that. However, I do subscribe to about a dozen blogs, send them to my Google Reader, and read them at the week’s end. In this way I keep abreast of recent publishing news, discover new agents, find out what books have been reviewed, and even win prizes. Twitter may be the latest, greatest, social networking tool, but I still believe in a blog. They aren’t books, of course, but blogs offer more than a few tweets. If you want to write well, you need to write and read often. Find yourself a good book, a blog, or a newspaper article (they do still exist) and study the craft as well as the content. You may not win a Kindle, but reading will serve you well.

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Summer Candy

August 13, 2012

During the summer I take a break from my writing practice and play with words instead. I edit. I study other authors. And I teach.

 

For five weeks, middle school kids sit with me to write. Boring? Not at all. In fact, the classes have tripled in size. A parent recently asked me how I engaged the kids without making it seem like school. At first, I answered, “candy”. Who doesn’t like a Tootsie Roll?

 

However, the real success of my classes comes from the kids. Giving them the space to be creative gives them freedom to explore. I find that kids come to my class nervous about perfecting conjugation and developing appropriate sentence structure. While I absolutely believe these things matter, they aren’t as important as one’s imagination.

 

When we sit on the deck and talk about voice, I ask the kids to become someone else. Sometimes, they are rock stars and actors, other times they become politicians or crocodile hunters, lavishly stereotyping their profiles. We role-play to create scenes. We develop texture by listening to new sounds and touching real dirt. By the end of the hour, the kids share their words, ask for more, and don’t want to leave. The creative process initiates the writing and lets it run.

 

Writers, like kids, need to step back from sentence structure and create. And maybe sneak a few Tootsie Rolls.

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50th Post!

June 28, 2012

Congratulations to Rock, Paper, Write! Today is the 50th post.

In order to organize the past fifty musings about writing, I’ve outlined the posts by category. If you missed something, or want a refresher, simply scroll through the archives.

Posts about the craft of writing:

-write                                       June 2011

-journals                                Sept. 2011

-voice                                      November 2011

-plot                                         November 2011

-rule of 3                                Dec. 2011

-characters                           May 2012

-NYC                                       June 2012

Publishing 101

-rejection                              May 2011

-agents                                   June 2011

-social networking            October 2011

-query (3 blogs)                 October 2011

-genre                                     November 2011

-kid-lit                                    Dec. 2011

-illustration                         Jan. 2012

-conference time               March 2012

-titles                                       April 2012

-dark YA                                April 2012

-work a workshop              June 2012

Organization              

-road trips                             June 28, 2012

-filing                                      August 2011

-space                                      Sept. 2011

General/ideas

-imagination                         July 2011

-remembering                      Sept. 2011

-word of the year                Jan. 2012

-empowerment                    Feb. 2012

-Harry Potter                        Feb. 2012

Quotes:

July 2011

Sept. 2011

Oct. 2011

Dec. 2011

Feb. 2012

April 2012

May 2012

Interviews:

Lindsay Eland                    July 2011

Todd Tuell                           August 2011

Interview                             November 2011

Kid review                           Jan. 2012

Karen Windness                Jan. 2012

Denise Vega                        March 2012

Maddie O’Malley               May 2012

About books and reading:

-dystopian                           June 2011

-read write                           August 2011

-favorite book                    Dec. 2011

-best sellers                         March 2012

-thrillers                               May 2012

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Agents: how to find one

June 14, 2011

For those of you not familiar to the bizarre world of publishing, there is a process. First, you write a book. Next you edit. And revise. And edit and revise and edit and revise and edit and revise, and well, you get the picture. When it’s as good as it gets, you decide whether you want to self-publish or find a publishing house to deliver your work. Because self-publishing deserves a blog all its own, I’ll concentrate on traditional publishing here.

First, you need to find an agent who will pitch your book to an editor. The editor’s publishing house will transform your words into a book. The entire process takes time. Lots of time. Some say the average number of years it takes to create a book is four. That’s some serious time.

Believe it or not I’ve been blessed and cursed with two agents. They’re not easy to find and for reasons sometimes out of their control, the agent can’t always deliver. My first agent was with ICM. She represented my non-fiction book, and although it made it to a couple of editorial boards at big publishing houses, it never sold.

Agents handle specific genres. Those who represent authors writing adult non-fiction, rarely represent authors who write for kids. So, when I wrote my middle grade novel, I found a different agent. After a year of searching, my agent with Kirchoff/Wohlberg could not find a home for my middle grade novel. During that time, my dad died and life was lost for a bit. When I came back to the page, I decided to find a different agent who specialized in young adult fiction, because my voice had changed. I wanted to write something new.

My current project, The Crystal Cave, is now complete, and I’m beginning the great agent search yet again. Oh joy. And yet, it is exciting. Please wish me luck.

First, the process begins by doing research. I have a list of agents I’ve met at conferences, as well as a list of agents I’ve either read about or have been referred to by other authors. Websites like Agent Query and Publishers Marketplace offer information about agents. Most literary agencies have websites with specific submission guidelines. They must be followed, exactly.

Once an author is ready to submit, he or she writes a query letter (I’ll devote an entire blog to the query later). If the agent wants to see more, hurrah! However, sometimes an

agent does ask to see more of the work and then, says no. Boo hoo! Even worse, the agent may say yes and takes you on, but still doesn’t sell your work, double boo hoo.

In the end, finding an agent is a long and difficult process, but it can be done. The best advice I can give is to persevere. While you’re searching, keep writing. After all, that’s what you do.