January, 2011

Dreaming of snow on Sunday

As another weekend winds to a close, I’m left with a to do list that did not get done! I’m frantically checking various social network accounts for messages as I move laundry from the washer to the dryer. The chinchilla cage is clean and I did manage to critique several pages for my online writing group. However, my manuscript, sitting in a heap on the corner of my desk, gently mocks me, whispering, “You have a deadline, you have a deadline. . . ” As does the pile of my students essays and poems that need to be sorted and signed for the upcoming  LAD Fair.  Hence,  hearing the news that snow and ice may be on the way was music to my ears!

But before I run off to fold the clothes in the dryer, I wanted to pass on an inspirational message I heard from Keni Thomas, Bronze Star for valor recipient. (The movie “Blackhawk Down” is based on his company’s mission in Somalia.) Keni now shares his story with organizations around the country and is also an award winning Nashville recording artist. His message is simple: no one is ordinary. People are counting on you, so look around and take responsibility for the people on your right and left. Step up, and under pressure, do the right thing. And since any group is only as strong as its weakest link, help those around you to be the best they can be.

So, with that in mind, this EXTRAORDINARY writer is off.

Smashing Saturday!

Saturday was fantastic. Hit the gym with my husband, then scooted over to Ben’s on the square for a breakfast wrap. After a quick shower, traveled to Springfield for the monthly Springfield Writers’ Group meeting.  Critiqued some interesting pieces during mentor hour, then met hubby for lunch at  Rosati”s, their pizza is to die for! Then back to the SWG to hear the speakers. This Saturday’s topic was family stories /memoir writing. Todd Parnell, President of Drury University, was our first speaker. He has self published three books based on family stories: Mom at War (His mom was a World War Two ‘Donut Dolly’ for the Red Cross), Postcards From Branson, and The Buffalo, Ben, and Me, which details a rafting trip he took with his 8th grade son. Todd says he writes to prove that it is okay to put things on paper and take risks. He also loves history, is proud of stories about his kinfolk, and wanted to give something back. (All the proceeds from his books go to charity. Mom at War has earned $20,000 for the Red Cross, Postcards from Branson has netted nearly $30,000 for SKAGGS, and proceeds from The Buffalo, Ben, and Me benefit the Upper White River Basin Association.) Lastly, he admits writing is fun! Our second speaker was my friend and past newsman for Anchor Ten, Wayne Groner. He gave an informative chat about important things to keep in mind if you decide to take on clients for memoir writing. He stressed that memoir writing for a client is not just a matter of transcribing the tapes, but rather, “Massaging the work so it looks, acts, and feels like a book.” He handed out a list of sample interview questions and suggested several books that would be helpful, like Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir by Sue William Silverman. If you want more info on this topic, visit his blog: waynegroner.blogspot.com or his website: http://yourmemoriesyourbook.com/

After the meeting, the real fun began! I received and signed my contract from Brighter Books for my first novel Momma Don’t Own a Machine Gun! I am so excited and can’t wait to begin the work of publishing and marketing my novel. Stay tuned for future updates!

I've read the fine print & am ready to sign on the dotted line!

Saturday Morning Me Time

The owl hooting outside my window (why do they DO that anyway?) drove me from bed at 4:30 am. While slurping my morning coffee, I found two jewels on Twitter: The English Companion NING and The Centurions of 2011. I joined both groups!

English Companion has a wealth of info for those of us teaching English-or who want to become better writers. I joined 3 groups: “Teaching Writing”, “YA Lit Book Club”, and “Teaching Middle School ELA”. Check out their free Learning Library and book clubs!

The Centurions of 2011 have a ‘simple’ goal: 111 books per member by January 2012! This reading community is comprised of teachers, publishers, authors and readers-all posting about their titles. My “Must get to” list is growing by the post…

As dawn dispelled the darkness, I hit Barnes & Noble looking for some non-fiction read alouds I could share with my class. Got distracted in the picture book section. Late for School by Steve Martin/Illustrated by C.F. Payne is a silly rhyming read aloud about a boy who thinks he’s late to school, then realizes it’s Saturday. (Big Bonus: comes with a CD of Steve singing the book’s lyrics.) If you like Snowmen (and who doesn’t?) check out Snowmen at Night or Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner/Illustrated by Mark Buehner. Be sure to watch for the hidden shapes in the illustrations (I had flashbacks to my childhood and Highlight magazine!) Chalk by Bill Thomson, tells a story without words.  When the children’s chalk creations come to life, the kids find themselves in a bit of a jam, until a rainstorm washes away their problems.  I revisited one of my old time favorites, Old Turtle by Douglas Wood/Accompanied by exquisite watercolor illustrations by Cheng-Khee Chee. This book answers the age old question:Who is God? Last but not least, I bought Graeme Base’s newest masterpiece, The Legend of the Golden Snail. This one reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth- a young boy goes on a quest, and comes back a changed man!  Sadly, I never found the non-fiction books I needed- ’cause I had to rush out and meet my husband for lunch!

Two thumbs up for local sandwich shop Ben’s on the square in historic downtown Ozark. Chicken pot pie soup was delicious, sandwich was piled high with good stuff, and their desserts/ice cream bar tempted my resolve to remain sweet free until April. I managed to abstain-just barely!

Now I’m retiring to my comfy chair corner to revise my manuscript in preparation for submitting to the publisher. Sigh of content…


Wow! A new year- the possibilities are endless! This might be the year I actually:

Floss twice a day, every day.

Get published.

Finish my second novel. Which would mean writing nearly every day.

Top 3oo attendees at the OWP Youth Conference.

Travel to at least three places I’ve never been.

Hit the gym at least three times a week.

Walk the dogs consistently. Even in winter.

Never take papers home to grade.

Learn to paint with my pal Laura.

Ride Hollywood consistently or sell her.

Join a church.

Grow a no weed vegetable garden.

Write a short story or article and pitch it at the Just Write! conference in April.

Just typing this has me energized-hope you all have things to look forward to in the new year as well!

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