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Sometimes, when I drive down the road, I think how almost every single thing I see is backed by a real live breathing person.

The Dollar Cuts store. Someone had the idea. Started the business. Stuck their neck out. Someone else bought the franchise. Worked thousands of hours. Hired people. Managed them. Taught them. Paid them.

The grass in the median that someone planned. Someone planted. Someone mows. Someone oversees and decides when maybe they should put flowers there now.

The little house on the corner. Someone saw the lot. Maybe a field? Bought it. Found money to finance it. Found a builder. Watched it grow. Picked the colors. The carpet. The carport. The mailbox.

The mailbox. Someone designed that mailbox. Got the metal. Made the metal into a box (welded it?). Picked out the paint. Put it in a catalog. Wrote some copy.

Every thing. Every single thing you see has a story. Has a someone. Has risk and love and blood and sadness and joys and money and no money and relationships and heartache and people. Stories stories stories. People. People. People.

Ann Lamott turned 61 recently and posted something about it on Facebook. I loved what she said. Here are one of my favorite things she said:

Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides.

We are more alike than we know. And when we read (and write) we get to hear people think, we get to experience their risks, their joys, their sadnesses, their everythings, intimately, and that makes our world bigger. It makes us understand more. It makes us kinder. It makes us smarter. And makes us love a little bit better.

I hope we write the hard things. I hope we write the stories we feel and and we see and we experience. I hope we don’t shy away from scariness or vulnerabilities. I hope we tell about the Dollar Cuts owner and her dog named Jimmy and how she lives alone and eats pancakes and drinks Sprite and watches HGTV and how she spent her life savings on that store. Her entire life savings and how maybe it wasn’t worth it. Or maybe it was.

So many stories waiting to be told.


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A few things:

1. Praying for Rick. Such a wonderful man and writer.

2. My baby rolled over.

3. My sweet neighbor decided to be me for her fifth grade wax museum which is so nice and strange and kind because she was supposed to pick someone famous and  I’m nobody and there’s jam on my shirt:

Autumn wax museum

4. I’m trying to get a revision to my editor by Friday and that’s why I’m eating saltines with strawberry jam on them like I’m 11 again and blogging and taking pictures of my baby and eating saltines with jam on them.

5. For writing practice, please list all the after school foods you ate including jam and saltines. Do you still eat them? What does your character eat? Does their mom know? Is it payback that my kids now eat cereal with hot chocolate mix in their milk?



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Freaking Friday

Rick’s brain surgery was successful.

All the tumor has been removed.

There may be a need for chemo, but I’m not sure yet.

This has been a long, hard week. However, I’m grateful and hopeful for what may happen for Rick.

Thank you for all who have prayed and fasted and sent good thoughts out for our friend.

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Three Things Thursday

Me: Thoughts and prayers for Rick as he is in surgery right now.



Writing for Charity, last Saturday, had some wonderful events, speakers, workshops, and critiquing sessions. All the proceeds go to help literacy efforts.
For the morning sessions, I was timing so people could get to their next event on time. The first one I heard was from Sharlee Glenn. During her presentation, she gave a “short” history of picture books, then talked about where the picture book is headed now.
What a romp through the past! I LOVED it! Some of my notes:
Orbis Pictus, in 1658 ( ! ! ! ) was the first (an encyclopedia) written and illustrated specifically for children.
It was followed by a sweet little volume entitled A Little Pretty Pocket Book in 1744.
Randolph Caldecott, 1846-1886 (died at only 40 years of age? Sad), was the one for whom the famous Illustrator’s award was named.
Then came the plethora of EARLY books for children — how many have YOU read? How many are still available for purchase?
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Raggedy Ann, Millions of Cats (LOVED this one!), Mike Mulligan, Madeline, Curious George, Make Way for Ducklings, all the Little Golden Books like Pokey Little Puppy and Saggy, Baggy Elephant, Goodnight Moon, The Cat in the Hat, Are you My Mother?, Where the Wild Things Are, Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . . . and so many more.
I recognized every one of those early ones from Beatrix Potter on. And loved them — all over again. Grab the ones you still have and LOOK at the original printing date! We should ALL have such staying power!



Is there a section of your novel that you’re struggling with? Maybe it isn’t working, but you can’t understand why. 

Try this. Without looking at the original, rewrite the scene using only single syllable words.
By doing this, you get rid of the prose–the fancy words, the pretty phrases–and instead you focus on what’s really happening. Sometimes we fall so in love with our words that we lose sight of what’s actually happening in our story. This can help fix that.

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Freaky Friday

I love that book, Freaky Friday. I’ve loved it every time I’ve read it.

Anyway–Five Character Writing Exercises for next week. One for each work day.


1. I have some odd behaviors. If people knew them, they’d be like, “Why do you do that?” Truth is, I’m not sure. I think some of the things I do are carried over from my childhood as they happen as I get ready to go to sleep. What are three odd behaviors your character has? Ones they want to keep secret. In fact, what are three odd behaviors for ALL your characters? And it’s okay to not know why, but you’ll learn more about these people if you DO.

2. Interview several strangers. Have questions to ask them. Things like, “If you could change one thing about an event in your life, what would it be?” Not just, “What’s your favorite color?” Watch how they react as they talk. As you talk. What are their expressions? Nervous habits? Tics? What’s charming about them? Frightening?

3. If you’re not used to it, ride the bus for a few hours–preferably when you’re not alone. Write a quick 50 words (or less) description about each person who comes on the bus. Or sit in a restaurant, right in the middle, so you can see who’s there. Think outside the box for each person. No stereotypes. Find the odd and the pleasant about each individual.

4. Your character keeps two journals. One is for normal use. The one that can be found. Can be read by others. The other is secrets your character may be trying to even keep from herself. Write several entries for both. Think of everything when you do this–Like, does she use two different pens? Burn incense when she writes in one log and not the other? Does she go somewhere else to write? Where does she hide the books?

5. And now a Freaky Friday question–if your character did change lives with someone–who might they choose to change lives with? Why? What if YOU made them change lives with someone? Then who would it be? Why? Write out a couple of days in that new life.


PS–Oh! I just came up with an idea for a new book writing these suggestions. It’s scary. Cool!

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Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

Today my lovely boyfriend left for Florida. We have been dating on and off again for over two years now. We’ve never been in a solid relationship until this last few months because he’s stubborn and I’m stubborn and he travels a lot and I’m a wimpy cat. But these last four or so months have been amazing. It’s funny to watch someone grow and change and to watch yourself grow and change, too. And all in good ways. With the last guy I was seeing I found myself changing a lot. Mostly for the better but a lot for the worse as well.

But those hard times and those bad changes I think helped me realize who I am and what I want. My previous boy never believed in me. I would read him my writing and he wold fall asleep, or want to watch tv, or whatever. I know I wasn’t the best writer back then, but it would have been nice to have been supported, even a little bit. He never believed I could get an agent and thought I would never publish. {one down, one to go!}

Whether I end up with this current guy, or meet someone new, I feel like he’s always believed in me. It means a lot. And it’s helped me a lot with my writing. It’s helped me with my goals and it’s helped me believe in myself.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. But I’m excited to see what this summer holds. Hopefully lots of travel, new friendships, and amazing writing.

I can’t wait. Even with a bruised heart I really can’t wait.

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my bald head

Dear Friends,

I’m typing this with a one year old on my lap. He doesn’t say many words. He does have a lot of opinions, however. And he makes sure everyone hears them.

Sometimes I wish he would grow up faster so that he could communicate and there wouldn’t be so much screaming.

But then I try to pick up my eight year old and I can’t because he’s so big and I want to bawl my eyes out.

Time goes so fast. I feel like I’m a 100 years old. I also feel like I’m 13. Just yesterday I was learning to drive a stick shift on the steep driveway of a church by Timpview, my mom making me practice with the clutch over and over again until the smell of burned rubber and metal was so bad, she said, “Okay. I think we better stop for today.” Today I’m driving around a orange peel infested Odyssey full of people hitting each other and yelling for me to change the song.

I’m nostalgic for my childhood.

I’m nostalgic for right now because I know it’s going to be gone before I know it.

What does your character miss?

What does your character wish would end?

Does time go fast?

Does time go slow?

Does she want to buzz her head?

I want to buzz my head. Or at least cut it very very short. But I also don’t want to look like a mom even though I have five kids. I have five kids and I wear the same clothes for days in a row and one time my only hope was for a boy to hold my hand at the movies.

My one year old is trying to type now. He’s yelling about it. And we’re fighting. My baby is crying now too. I guess I’ll go.


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