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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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The shoe lady

Dear Everyone,

Today I wore a embroidered Mexican dress.  I love it and it feels like I’m in my pajamas all day but also not in my pajamas.

I went on a walk with my kids and a neighbor saw me and said: are you the old woman who lived in a shoe?

This struck me as funny and for a brief moment I stepped outside and looked at myself. A girl. A lady, really, I guess. Am I a lady? I feel like a girl.

A girl.

Holding a baby.

A toddler toddling.

A little boy running.

Two older little boys arguing.

The six of us walking down the sidewalk.

The sun coming down.

No make up.


In this dress.

I thought, I am the old woman who lived in a shoe.

I also thought, I’m so grateful to be her.

I also thought, isn’t amazing that a nursery rhyme can say so much.

It’s poetry.

Poetry that’s been passed down and over and under and all over. Poetry that has many meanings. Poetry that teaches kids to read. Poetry that evokes an emotional response.

It seems so simple but it does so much.

I love words.

The end.


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The Month Started on Sunday Again.

And I’m ready to try and write. Hard writing. Lots of words. Exercising, too.

Weird that this morning I woke up really sad.

Almost crying sad.


Why so much?

Why so long?

What are YOUR March plans?


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Three Things Thursday

Writing exercise: copy a page or two from a favorite writer or book you’ve loved. Get into the author’s rhythm and tone. Looking for ways to change up the WIP you’re stuck in.

I decided to give this a try myself.  I copied two pages of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.  It had me laughing and crying by the time I got through.  Have you read it?
A great book for older MG or younger YA, Spinelli nailed the speech and thoughts of upper junior high students — and I should know, having taught them for a number of years.  It was funny, with realistically young dialogue, as told through the eyes of a JHS boy.  The most captivating character is the “new kid” in town who is quirky, strange, an outsider.  And what JHS boy OR girl hasn’t felt that way before?  Called Stargirl, she wears a string of peculiar outfits: bib shorts, shoulder straps and all, a 20’s flapper dress, a kimono, an Indian buckskin or a denim miniskirt with an enamel ladybug and butterfly pins crawling up her long green stockings.  Her “normal” was long, floor-brushing pioneer dresses or skirts.
Stargirl lives with abandon, does outrageous things: brings a ukelele to school, plays it wandering table to table in the cafeteria and singing Happy Birthday to her victims by name on their actual birthdays.  How did she find out who and when? A girl named Hillari orders Stargirl NOT to sing to her on her birthday; so she sings for Hillari, but does so into the stunned face of the male narrator of the story.
What JHS girl wouldn’t dream of living with such abandon?  What JHS boy wouldn’t dream of finding her on his arm on graduation day?
THAT’S a voice I’d like to capture.  That’s the quirky person who’s missing in my story.  Try it.  Maybe it will help get you unstuck too!
People at the extreme end of any spectrum always cause problems. 

Who is the angriest person you know? The loudest? The dumbest? The most gentle? The flakiest?
Try creating a character who is extreme in just one aspect of their personality. How does it change the scene? Or the storyline?
Just one character can make all the difference in a story. Look at Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory. He should be a secondary character, nothing more than the roommate of the main character. But he is so eccentric that he becomes fascinating. He steals every scene and I’ll go so far as to say the show would fall apart without him.
Try playing around with the edges of the spectrum with your characters. You might be surprised at what you find.
While you’re reading this, think good thoughts about Thomas Edison, inventor of so many things and, without whom, you wouldn’t be centering so much of your world around electronics.  Yesterday would have been his birthday.
My favorite quote of his: “I haven’t failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
There are days I feel that way about my writing.  “Edit away,” I say!  “There’s one more way I’ve found that doesn’t work.  I’m bound to get it right eventually!”  So I keep at it.
Here’s another good one:  “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
A few more pithy words from this man who kept at it:
“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”
“There is no substitute for hard work.”
” Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
Thanks to good old Tom, I don’t need to feel I’ve failed.  I haven’t failed if I haven’t yet given up!  How about you?

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