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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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Eavesdropping

“Let’s play ‘I Spy,'” I say loudly, trying to talk over the family bickering on the next bench. “I spy with my little eye, something red.”

“That’s why you get whooped,” the mother on the next bench yells, “I tell you and tell you and you don’t listen. That’s why you get whooped.”

“Did you find something red?” I ask Mister.

“An American flag,” Mister answers casually. “Mom, is that boy going to get whooped?” At least the family stops bickering. But now I’m scared of getting whopped.

Has a child ever embarrassed someone by eavesdropping? Did you ever embarrass someone else as a child?

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Dialogue

 

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Tiniest Thing

I don’t have very much luck. I get a lot of red lights, especially when I’m late. I don’t win raffles or drawings. The only time I played the lottery, I was off my one number. I’m never chosen for “look under your seat to see if you’re the winner” kind of things. I don’t even win scratch-off tickets.  

But even when I don’t have luck, I’m still very lucky. How can that be? Well, I have the usual: a caring husband, a healthy child, a nice house in a safe neighborhood, an involved family, goals and dreams I’m passionate about, and so, so much more.

But sometimes, like I did with Mister at the train station, I forget to see those things. 

Salsanpeeps shared a comment along the same lines:

I think watching my wife and son walk on the beach. Prior to that, it was watching them walk together pulling a wagon with his stuffed bear in it.

Sometimes, like salsanpeeps did, it takes stepping back from your situation to find the reasons you are lucky. I find that writers are good at this, probably because finding the things that make you feel lucky is a lot like finding story ideas. It means noticing the little things. 

The other day, Mister was fussing at nap time. “Can’t you carry me up the stairs, Mom?” he asked.

“I can’t,” I said, “Mom hurts too much today.” (I’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, see this post for more)

“What hurts?” he asked.

“My hands, my shoulders, and my knees,” I told him.

Slowly and gently, which is difficult for a kid who doesn’t do anything slowly or gently, he kissed each one of my “boo boos.” Those kisses showed me that, even with a chronic illness, I’m lucky to having a loving and understanding family to help me through it. 

And that gave me an idea. There are lots of other kids with family members with chronic illnesses like mine. So far I’ve only seen one book for them (When Pete’s Dad Got Sick).

If I keep this up every day for weeks at a time, I might only come up with one or two or five usable story ideas, but those ideas, and the perspective I gain in finding them, are so worth it.

Think about what makes you lucky, even if it is the tiniest thing, because that thing might just be your next story idea.

Related Links:

Blog post (with some beautiful photos) about a mom who started noticing things after she had kids. http://www.kellehampton.com/2012/09/observance-and-writing.html

Tips for finding those all-important details and story ideas: http://www.youngupstarts.com/2012/03/02/eight-ways-to-retrain-your-brain-to-notice-the-little-things/

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Inspiration and Ideas

 

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Can’t Believe

Mister is so excited he drops the quarter I asked him to hold. I stomp on it before it rolls off the train platform and check to see if the train is coming for the gazillionth time before I bend down to pick up the quarter. No train in sight. We’re going to be late.

“Now when the train comes,” I prep Mister, “we’re going to put our money in quickly and find a seat. Then we’ll ride the train to meet Daddy.”

“Okay,” he says. “But, Mum, what does this do?” He asks, pointing to the route map and touching each stop like it’s a button.

Then it hits me. I am so focused on our end destination, that I’m forgetting how exciting just the trip is for Mister. He’s only ridden this light rail train one other time in his life. With new patience, I explain the map, the rails and the wires, the poles and lines on the platform, and the most exciting part of the station: the port-o-potty.

When we step on the train, I let Mister put the money in even if it takes a little longer and we’re already late. I let him choose our seat even when he isn’t quick to decide. When he finally settles in, the only thing he can say is, “I just can’t believe we’re here.”

“I know, buddy. We’re so lucky,” I say, but I’m the really lucky one.

What moment made you feel really lucky lately? Why?

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Details

 

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Another Voice

“I got another voice,” I tell Husband while plugging my laptop back in on the desk.

“What?” he asks.

“I got another voice,” I repeat. “Another character introduced herself to me. And she’s a tough one.”

“Oh, so you don’t mean a physical voice?” he asks, sounding relieved.

“No…but sort of,” I reply. I’m sure that didn’t help. He must think I’m nuts.

So far all of my characters for my longer stories have introduced themselves to me (I’ll share more about how this happens on Friday). I feel very lucky to discover characters this way, but I also want to know if anyone else is a little nuts like me. So, the prompt for this week is:

How do you get an idea for a new character? What do you do after you get the idea?

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Character

 

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Cheating

Bowl.

Sing.

Ski.

Remember to add baking powder not baking soda to from-scratch baked goods.

Write the book from my dream.

Putt (at least without cheating).

This is just a short (and incomplete) list of things I can’t do. And that last one is a biggy. Not just because I can’t write that book, but because I’ve been avoiding any writing that gets too emotional. I prefer to dance around on the light, funny stuff and leave the down and dirty, makes me want to cry stuff for other writers.

But things have been popping up that want to be written. Ugly things. But I push them back down. I “drown” them. And I don’t think I have to tell you that drowning is a bad thing. My recent dream reinforces that.

I just realized that I’ve been writing and revising my current work-in-progress for almost four years. I’ve sent it out on submission a few times, mostly without confidence, because, while I feel that some parts of the work (voice, main character’s development, humor) are pretty good, the story doesn’t feel finished. Because I’m cheating.

I’m cheating myself. I’m cheating my story. I’m cheating my readers.

And aside from when I putt, I’m not cheater.

My plan is, maybe with the help of a really good writer-friend or some of the links below or maybe even a shrink, to go deeper into my emotional history to find the rest of my story. It scares the crap out of me, but I think it is the right thing to do. And maybe I’ll discover more stories along the way.

Links about Emotional Writing:

http://www.shirleyjump.com/article/item-194a3706-1ed5-4c63-8d0c-b0044e4a3ffa.aspx – Shirley Jump examines how word choice influences emotional tone

http://jamigold.com/2012/06/3-tips-for-writing-heavy-emotional-scenes/ – Jami Gold offers 4 tips for writing emotional scenes

http://tonyakappes.blogspot.com/2012/09/writing-with-emotion.html – Tonya Kappes discusses how to “show don’t tell” emotions

http://www.novelrocket.com/2012/06/dont-cheat-reader.html – Sally Apokedak shares a story about a book that skipped an emotional scene and how she felt as a reader

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Details

 

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Make Sured

None of us, not even us writers (I was the one who thought “invisible touch, hey” was “busy bone touch shake”) get all of the words right all of the time. And that’s okay because…

neither do kids.

What I love about this topic, more than that it is just fun to think about, is that it reminds me to really listen. Those misquoted lyrics, or the way Mister makes mistakes with language, are full of story ideas.

When he was younger, Mister used to say, “coffEE mAKEr” with emPHAsis on the wrong syllABLE. I think this would make a great character trait in a longer story.

Last weekend, we went to a fan event for the Pittsburgh Pirates called “Piratefest.” Mister thought I was saying “Pirate fish.” I can only imagine where he thought I was taking him. I think a pirate/fish sounds like a good idea for a main character.

Just today, Mister finished eating lunch and I told him to make sure his belly was full before he got down from his chair.

“I make sured,” he said. Super cute. And possibly a story about words breaking language rules.

I’d like to keep this fun topic going, so, please vote on the poll on Monday’s post to choose your favorite misquoted lyrics shared on Monday.

And here’s a challenge. Do you know the actual lyrics to the misquoted lyrics below (list from http://st-james.hubpages.com/hub/Misquoted-Lyrics)? Share them in the comments!

Misquoted Lyrics:

AC/DC- “Dirty Deeds and the Thunder Chief”

Queen- Bohemian Rhapsody- “Scallaboosh, Scallaboosh, will you do the banned tango…”

Canadian National Anthem- Oh Canada- “Oh Canada, we stand on cars and freeze…”

R.E.M.- Losing My Religion- “Let’s pee in the corner, Let’s pee in the spotlight.”

Billy Ray Cyrus- Achy Breaky Heart- “Don’t break my heart,my eggy bready heart.”

Lady Ga Ga- “My My My Mom Broke Her Face… My Mom Broke Her Face”

Other Links:

List of other misquoted song lyrics: http://americantruthmachine.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/misquoted-song-lyrics/

Misquoted Bible verses: http://crunchyurbanite.com/2011/07/04/misquoted-verses-the-bible-doesnt-say-that/

Misquoted movie lines: http://www.totalfilm.com/features/the-20-most-misquoted-movie-lines

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Inspiration and Ideas

 

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