Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why does summer always feel like this?

video

During that first week of June, just when we're all trying to re-adjust to everyone being home all of the time, sometimes I think the next two and half months are going to be a long time. Then things begin to pick up: family reunions, scout camp, girls camp, youth conferences, overnighters, art classes, drama classes, camping, parades, late movie nights, and the list goes on.

All of a sudden it's nearly the first of August, school will start in two and half weeks, and I ask myself, "Where did time go?"

Here's to summer and all the fun we've had!
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Morphing: In books and real life

Morphing characters (not to be confused with morphling, the powerful painkiller in The Hunger Games) seems so easy to do. A character begins as one person and turns into someone or something else. There is a popular MG series based on this concept called Animorphs.
In real life, however, morphing is not so simple. I have two children that are morphing into something new at this graduation time.
Sixth grade grad
My sixth grader will be entering junior high next year. It always amazes me how much change happens in a tween’s life as they move from elementary school to junior high. Some of the changes are great. Others not so much.
Second of all, my oldest is graduating from high school and moving onto college. It's a big change that is laden with many bittersweet emotions--excitement, regret, hope, worry, etc. She's going to be moving out on her own, which is going to be so awesome for her, but she is so much fun and responsible that I am really going to miss her.
Senior grad announcement
In writing, when we morph a character into something else, the idea is that the transition needs to be seamless. Sometimes the morphing takes a while, like a person slowly becomes someone else over time. An example of this is in the classic book, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Other times, the character morphs abruptly like going from a teenage boy into a werewolf. I’m sure you all know a book or two where this happens. If not, ask yourself where in the world you've been for the last ten years. :)
Regardless, to make a seamless transition there needs to be preparation, build up, and a clear explanation of how it happens. If not, it doesn't sit well with your reader.
My husband and I were listening to an audio book once when, at the very end of the story, the author had written herself into a corner. So what did she do? The main character all of a sudden realized she had ESP and talked to the mind of another character to get out of the climatic problem.
It BOMBED!

Just as I have tried to prepare my real children, build them up, and explain (as best I could) what the new stage of their lives will bring, we can do the same with our characters, only we have a lot more control (which, let’s be honest, is really nice sometimes.) 
Friday, May 16, 2014

The Adrenaline Rush


Eloise at Hershey Track
Attending my kids’ Hershey Track meets at the end of the school year  always reminds me of my elementary school’s “field day”—that’s what we called it 30+ years ago where I went to school.

Field day was always a big day for me. I’m not sure why, except for the fact that since running took little skill, it was something I could do.

Unlike many of the kids when I was growing up, I was never involved with dance, gymnastics, karate, soccer, softball, etc. . . In my family we mostly just did chores, watched reruns on TV, and had an occasional game of ping pong.  (Yes, we also walked uphill both to and from school.)

But running was easy for me, and I loved the feeling it gave me. I still do. There is nothing better than putting in my earphones or meeting my running buddies and taking off for jaunt around the neighborhood.

I have one of those bodies that about 10 minutes into my run, I get an amazing adrenaline rush and feel like I could keep going for forever. Yet sometimes I still drag my feet getting started. It doesn’t make much sense because I know I’m going to feel better, so why do I fight it?

Larson at Hershey Track
I’ve deciding writing is a lot that way. Often it is a battle for me to get started. I bake bread. Do a load of laundry. Clean up the kitchen. Move junk from corner of the house to the other. I do anything but write. Why do I put it off? I know once I’ve started I’ll get a rush of adrenaline that will make me feel like I’ve had a “complete” day. When I got to bed at night and haven’t written a thing, I feel like a failure. But even if I’ve written only a page, I go to sleep at peace with myself.


With summer coming on, there will be even more distractions in my life. So I’m trying to think of a way to inspire myself to write every day. I’m not sure how to do it yet, but once I’ve figured out my system, I’ll post it for anyone else that struggles like I do. If you have an idea, please pass it along.
Monday, April 21, 2014

The book club phenomenon

“The first rule of a book club is that nobody
really wants to talk about the book.” 
When my youngest child entered first grade, it was a bittersweet moment for her. She was sad because, as she explained, she wouldn't be able to go to "book club" with mommy anymore. True story.

For the last fifteen years, my book club has not only influenced each one of my children, but it has given me an anchor to the most amazing bunch of women I know. Thank you. I dedicate this short note to you and to your shining examples.





Saturday, March 29, 2014

Glossy magazine about MG books without killing trees--FREE subscriptions


While print glossy magazines are dying out like the dodo bird, digital versions are getting better looking than ever. A new e-zine called MIDDLE SHELF is dedicated to those interested in middle grade books. And, here is the best part: SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE FREE! It comes out every other month and it includes author interviews, book reviews, and photo essays. The e-zine would be particularly useful for librarians, teachers, and homeschoolers. 

The middle grade co-op of authors I belong to banded together and put an ad in MIDDLE SHELF for our EMBLAZONERS catalog. The ad looks so pretty I have to brag about it (page 7). For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, the EMBLAZONER catalog was created for a one-stop shopping experience for quality middle grade reads. (It would be good to check out with summer around the corner.)


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Thing about Thoughts (Self-help Audiobook Giveaway)


Join the rafflecopter below to win one
of three audiobooks for
The Art of Stillness ($19.95 value)
Thoughts make the perfectionist. While there are some perfectionists who look the part, most of us don’t. Instead, the perfection we seek is often found in our heads. We think things should be a certain way, and then we scurry about trying to physically change everything around us to fit that perception. It is when our efforts come up short that our world starts to fall apart.

Thoughts are tied to our beliefs. Every thought we have becomes a part of us, and if we have the same thought long enough, most of us start to believe it regardless of what logic tells us.

Scientists have examined and studied this aspect to human nature time and time again. In one experiment conducted by a Dr. Stephen Cosley, study participants were asked to look at a grid (made up of small squares) in which was drawn the letter A. While the people stared at the letter, a PETscan was taken of their brains. The scans universally showed a certain area of the occipital cortex in the back of the brain lit up. It is in this area that letter recognition is stored in memory. Nothing too fascinating. 

Next, however, the people were asked to look at an empty grid, but they were told to think they were looking at a letter A. Brain scans showed the identical part of the brains lit up in the participants. The conclusion was that thinking about something activated the brain in just the same way as physically seeing something. In other words, thoughts become reality.

So what are we to do if we don’t like our stressful thoughts? How can we change them?

The Art of Stillness, a book about stress and anxiety management for Christians, is available as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook. I co-wrote the book with psychologist Victoria Anderson, and it is a project that evolved over several years.


We're giving away three audiobook copies of The Art of Stillness. Please enter the rafflecopter below to win yours!

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure Middle Grade Blog Hop


Today’s post is part of a Choose Your Own Adventure Story written and hosted by T. Isenhoff and M. Isenhoff on their Storyboys blog. T. is in 3rd grade, and M. is in 6th grade. This story was their winter homeschool project. Travel over to their blog to start at the beginning. Have fun!
(Here’s the permalink to the boys’ first post, if it didn’t come through on the hyperlink above: http://wp.me/p2bspO-5A)


Ed grabbed a flowerpot and Tony picked up an old ladder back chair. They stood on the other side of the stairway wall with their weapons poised, waiting for whoever or whatever was approaching.
A head immerged, lit by the glow of a cigarette.
“Freeze, moron!” Tony yelled and jumped out from behind the wall. Ed flashed his light in the fellow’s eyes. A pasty face with red and blue spiked hair glowered back at them.
“Meatloaf?” they called together.
Meatloaf was the meanest kid in school. There was a debate as to how he got his nickname. Some kids said it was because he once shoved an entire tray of meatloaf in a kid’s face at lunchtime. Others said it was because he had fists like a side of beef. Either way, he was no honor student.
“What do you want, punks?”
“We saw something in the window this afternoon and thought we’d check it out,” Ed told him.
“Yeah, well now you know what it was. Get lost!”
“Do you come here often?” asked Tony, lowering the chair.
“Only when my parents start screaming and my old man starts swinging.”
“Gosh, that sucks,” said Ed.
Meatloaf grabbed Ed by the front of the shirt and shook him. “Yeah, don’t go telling anyone or I’ll teach you the meaning of pain.” He raised his huge fist. Ed cowered, and Tony grabbed the chair.


Should Ed and Tony fight Meatloaf, or should they run away? If you think they should stand and fight, click here. If you think they should break and run, click here.

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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.

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