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Reflection

“No, Mom!” Mister yells.

I remove my hand from the bathtub drain lever.

“My toys are still in here. And please don’t let the water go down now. That will scare me.”

I nod, even though we’ve talked about him not being able to fit down the drain a gazillion times. I make a mental note to drain the tub after he’s asleep and to read I’m Not Afraid of Anything to him again.

I’m Not Afraid of Anything is the picture ebook I wrote a few years ago that was published by MeeGenius. It was recently featured on the MeeGenius blog as a book to help kids conquer their fears, especially the fear of the doctor.

It’s recent feature got me thinking about Mister and his fears. I find it funny that, even though I wrote it inspired by my own childhood fear of the vacuum, and even though Mister wasn’t even close to being born yet at the time I wrote it, the book still nails one of Mister’s fears. So, this week’s question is:

What book(s) do you find to be a reflection of your life? What about the book is familiar?

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Reading

 

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Influence

One for the Murphys

I’ve read three more pieces of fiction for older readers (young adults and adults) and countless picture books (thanks to Mister) in the weeks since I read One for the Murphys. But I was still thinking about that book as I sat down to write Monday’s post.That’s probably because the book made me feel. It made me so thankful that I get to watch Mister grow up. It made me realize how lucky I am to have a husband who wants our family to work as much as I do. It made me remember my own childhood and how bits of that have shaped the person I am today. All that from a book. A work of fiction.

As I said, I’ve read a lot of books since One for the Murphys. Here are some of them and the influence they had on me:

The Day the Crayons Quit- makes me want to ask more “what if” questions throughout the day to find more creative stories

Reason to Breathe, Barely Breathing, Out of Breath- all three books in this series made me want to renew the romance Husband and I had when we were young

Tough Chicks- made me realize that what makes Mister difficult to deal with some days is exactly what will make him successful as he grows

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- in a weird way made me want to give a voice to those who are underrepresented in fiction

Notice that the list isn’t very long. Not every book I read makes me want to make a lasting change, but some do. Those are the books I need to read again. To study. To absorb into my being. Because those are the books I want to write.

Related Links:

One for the Murphys on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12926804-one-for-the-murphys?from_search=true

How writing affects the brain: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-does-writing-affect.html

A study that shows we are what we read: http://www.americanownews.com/story/19895957/personality-changes-reading-habits

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Emotion

 

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Foster Care

My eyes are puffy and won’t stop tearing. The hives cover my chest, arms, and, I see as I climb into the shower, back. I curl up on the floor of the shower and let the hot water try to wash it all away.

But hurt like this doesn’t go down easy.

After a lengthy hospital stay to recover from injuries inflicted by her mother’s new husband, 12-year-old Carley was placed in foster care. Her new family is loving, kind, and, most of all, cohesive. Everything her “family” isn’t. Knowing she’ll never fit in, Carley keeps her distance.

Before long, they family’s little boy blasts away the walls she’s put up with his super hero powers and tied-towel cape. She becomes Super High Tops Girl and rescues him right back, hanging a bully in a tree by his overall straps. Through their little superhero’s hole, the rest of the family squeezes into Carley’s heart. She becomes the funny, strong, caring, and open young lady she was always meant to be.

But news from her mother threatens Carley’s new self. Her mother, who was never expected to walk again, is about to be released from the hospital and move back to Las Vegas. And she wants her daughter to go with her. Carley has a choice to make: stay with her foster family where she knows she’s safe and loved or return to an uncertain life with her mother, the only blood relative she’s ever known.

I towel off and snuggle into my pajamas. I curl up on the couch and heave a heavy sigh. Then I crack open the book one last time. Despite the tears, I just have to know how it ends.

Carley is the main character in One for the Murphys. An absolutely recommended read.

What book has touched you emotionally? What, if any, lasting effect/affect did it have?

 

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Reading

 

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Backstory

So to finish the Mister story, Husband called the doctor right away and the doctor told us to go get x-rays. The x-rays showed that Mister did, indeed, swallow a penny. And it was already in his stomach. That was a big relief for us since a Google search told us they can sometimes get lodged sideways on the way down. We were told to sift through his poop until we found the penny, and sent home.

The next day, 29 hours from when it went in, the penny came out without issue. I joke that it took Mister as long to birth the penny as it took for me to birth him.

After I told Mister the penny was out, he yelled “I’m free!” I didn’t know if he meant he was free because he had $0.00 in him now, or because he was free of the worry, but it was pretty funny either way.

As funny as this story is, it is probably something in Mister’s backstory that I won’t often reveal. Sure, I may tell it to a girlfriend later in his life to try to embarrass him. But, otherwise, that story is just going to quietly become a part of what makes Mister, Mister.

Just like our characters have stories that make them, them.

And all of those stories don’t need to be told either.

Discovering those stories can be almost as much work, and as much fun, as writing the story.

On expert advice, I started digging deeper into the past of my own character. She’s an eight year old tomboy, named Mabel, who loves baseball. This same expert asked why she loved baseball so much and who was her favorite player. I knew she wouldn’t have just any favorite player. It had to be a woman. And not just any woman. She had to be as good as the boys.

Well, after not too much searching, I found her. Jackie Mitchell.

 

The daughter of a doctor, Jackie seemed to be born to play ball. Her father introduced her to the game at a young age and Dazzy Vance, her next door neighbor taught her how to pitch. Vance went on to pitch in the majors while Jackie played in a women’s league. That is, until she became the second woman in history to sign a minor league deal.

Jackie-Mitchell-shaking-hands-with-babe-ruth

Jackie was on the Class AA Junior Lookouts Roster when the new York Yankees came in to town to play an exhibition game. She took the mound against the greats: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. And she struck them out. Perfect hero for a tomboy.

 

And I admit that I’m tempted to squeeze Jackie into the story. She has a great story all her own. But I know that if I’m going to use it, the timing has to be perfectly right, or it will feel forced. And if I don’t use it, then it will just be part of what makes Mabel, Mabel.

 

Related Links:

http://www.cowansauctions.com/itemImages/d5378.jpg- an article researching whether the strike outs of Ruth and Gehrig are a myth

http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/09192013-the-sad-story-behind-i-love-you-forever/- The story behind the children’s book Love You Forever

http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/what-you-can-learn-about-writing-from-childrens-books/- what you can learn about writing from children’s books (including that no one wants backstory in place of plot)

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Character

 

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I Won’t Tell You

“I won’t tell you, Mom,” my 3 year-old, Mister, said as I walked into his room.

“I won’t tell you what happened.” He paced around the room, holding his chest and groaning.

“Bud,” I knelt down in front of him, “I need you to tell me what happened, especially if it is something not good, so I can help you.”

He covered his eyes with his hands and whispered, “I put a penny in my mouth and it went down my throat in to my esophagus.”

I felt my eyes get as big as quarters. “It did? Do you feel okay or does it hurt you?”

“It hurts me, Mom.” He held his chest.

“Bud, I’m so glad you told me,” I said, and started to call the doctor.

Mister didn’t want to tell me what happened to him just like we don’t want to tell everything about our characters to the reader. What is in your character’s(s’) back story that you are keeping secret from your reader?

penny

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Character

 

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Rebuild

On the wagon. In the saddle. Off the bench. Whatever idiom you choose to use, I’m back.

On the wagon. In the saddle. Off the bench. Whatever idiom you choose to use, I’m back. But it has been a month of Sundays since I wrote a new post. I’m a little rusty. But there are some good reasons:

1. I’ve reached another crossroad in my writing. As I talked about here, I’ve been working with the Plot Planner mapped out in the book The Plot Whisperer. It has made a huge difference in my middle grade manuscript. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m almost done with this book. And just in time. I have about a month left to submit to recent conference contacts.

2. So, when I’m not sitting down and revising or thinking about revising, chances are, I’m working on my house. I finished the fireplace project:

Fireplace BEFORE2013-10-21_12-51-39_441

And I’ve started another project in my non-writing life: the basement.

Future Family Room2013-12-03_19-30-51_0

3. As if I wasn’t busy with enough building, I got some really, really good advice about building an online platform. Stephanie Keyes, author of the Star Child books and networking extraordinaire, recommends that any online activity conducted by authors (including blogs) should follow the 9:1 rule. That means that for every 1 thing I post about myself, I need to post 9 things about someone else. After this post, I think I owe 463 posts about others.

It seems that all areas in my life are in the middle of a rebuild. I’m still trying to figure a lot out, but in the meantime, I’m back to blogging. I sure hope its like riding a bike.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Other Stuff

 

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Impact

“Welcome to the National League Division Series. Here are your Pittsburgh Pirates,” the announcer booms. “Starting in center field…”

Through wells of tears, I watch a blurry Andrew McCutchen turn to point to the fans before high-fiving his way down the line of coaches to take his space on the field.

As my other favorite players are announced, I can’t hold back my tears. The city has been waiting a long time for this. My family has been waiting a long time for this. And it is finally here.

Looks like the rally towel give-away is going to come in handy in more ways than one.

Okay, so it might not exactly be normal to be moved to tears at a baseball game, but, if you’ve been paying attention to sports at all lately, the Pirates making it to the NLDS is kind of a big deal. What is something you’ve experienced lately that has had a particularly strong emotional impact? How can you draw on that emotional experience to enhance your writing?

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Emotion

 

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