July 2, 2016

A Perspective on Choices



Sarah Aronson is a writer who gave me the gift of an amazing manuscript critique at the SCBWI regional conference in April, where she also presented and delivered a keynote address. 

She earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is the co-founder and director of Writing Novels for Young People Retreat at VCFA. She also teaches for the Highlights Foundation. In other words, she knows her stuff when it comes to kidlit. 

The conference was where I fully realized the extent of how green I am at all of this. And my manuscript screamed green. But, this was not a problem for Sarah Aronson. In fact, green is good. Green means your seed has life. Sprouts are green. Green means growth. 


I wanted to share her latest blog about the importance of choices because it provides a collective peek into her presentation, keynote, and the helpful comments she made on my manuscript. Most importantly, I want to save it for when my manuscript needs the next round of tending. More water. More sun. More play. Because, though it's not easy being green, green is good. Go Green!


http://www.throughthetollbooth.com/2016/06/30/choices/


June 13, 2016

A Light in the Dark - Original Picture Book Text

This is just one of many seeds I have grown. I wrote it post-Sandy Hook because, as a parent, I wanted to comfort my children in some way. I wanted them to know about the helpers in times of trauma.

This was my way to reach out - a light in a child's dark moment.


A Light In the Dark


<page is all black, but light follows focus through story>



Sometimes there is darkness in the world.

I will take your hand and hold it in mine,
Until you can be a light, too.

Even if my light only shines down at our feet so we can wiggle our toes,
As I hold your hand
So you can be a light, too.

Even if my light only shines enough so you can see my face, 
While we wiggle our toes,
As I hold your hand,
Until you can be a light, too.

Even if my light only shines enough so you know it's me humming that tune,
With a smile on my face,
While we wiggle our toes,
As I hold your hand,
Until you can be a light, too.

Even if my light only shines enough so you can see my shoulders dance up and down,
While I hum that tune, 
With a smile on my face,
While we wiggle our toes,
As I hold your hand,
Until you can be a light, too.

Even if my light only shines enough so you can see my crazy hair bounce,
From my shoulder dance, 
While I hum that tune,
With a smile on my face,
While we wiggle our toes, 
As I hold your hand,
Until you can be a light, too.

Even if my light only shines enough so I can see you laugh at how funny I look,
As my crazy hairs bounce,
From my shoulder dance,
While I hum that tune,
With a smile on my face,
While we wiggle our toes,
As I hold your hand,
Until you can be a light, too.

Even if my light only shines enough so you can be silly,
As your crazy hairs bounce, 
From your shoulder dance, 
While you hum that tune,
With a smile on your face,
While we wiggle our toes,
As you hold my hand,
Shining your light, too.

We are not alone, you and me.     
<hug>

Maybe there are others in the dark. 
Let's go see.

<walking away, their light catches feet and hands reaching out from the dark>

(Copyright - RMB, 2016)

May 26, 2016

From the clay...

Some days, when I sit down to write, I feel like extracting the ideas from my brain is akin to pulling sewing threads through hardening clay. My brain aches just trying to keep hold of the turn of phrase that best captures and articulates my idea.

I know the concept of drafting is supposed to cure this and I'm supposed to just let the ideas flow free, to sketch the shape of the story. On days like this, the concept of drafting does not help at all! More days of pulling more threads through clay, surely, makes the headache much worse.

But, these are the days when I have to remind myself that it takes time, patience, and plenty of hydration to get the threads from the clay.

From this clay, many beautiful forms may take shape, and each delicate thread's true color is revealed when exposed to the light.

These are the days when the finer points are blessings, even if the stitches are small and delicate upon the page.

Because today one more piece of the story is known, and there is always tomorrow.

May 10, 2016

Erosion



We don’t have to.
We don’t have...
We don’t.
We...

You want me to.
You want me.
You want...
You.

You can’t make me.
You can’t make...
You can’t.
You.

I don’t have to.
I don’t have...
I don’t.
I...

I want to….
I want…
I...


May 7, 2016

Louis C.K. in Hironimo Feck Territory!

In viewing this segment from Conan the other night, I couldn't help but think of my beloved Hironimo Feck and Vesuvia Jean story. (See 5/1/16 post for story text)

Take a look - NSFW:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Df4xdr_5pk


I am  in the midst of liberating Feck/Jean from their cumbersome rhyme scheme. But, the core of the story is so true. Time to think about how our screen habits affect ourselves and our relationships,

May 2, 2016

Level Up, Dorothy!

Day 3 - WWMW SCBWI Conference

Kansas. Who wants Kansas, anymore?

In keeping with my first Oz-themed SCBWI blog post, I hereby declare myself a citizen of Oz (SCBWI),even if the road is pot-holed and - definitely - not paved with gold. This Dorothy wanted to stay with the munchkins...at least for a while longer!

I've met some truly kindred spirits and a critique group to boot! It doesn't happen every day, so you have to cherish it when  it does. You must dare to open the door and choose adventure.

Sunday morning, I received my manuscript critique from author Sarah Aronson.

To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into when I registered in February. This is a lifelong trend, friends. Jump! Sink or swim! Improvise! Whether getting married, teaching or raising kids, you name it - that's how I roll.

When I received the folder, I didn't really want to open it - not because I was afraid of rejection or failure. It was because I've loved every single brainy second of this weekend and wanted to keep a few crumbs for home.

You know, home.

The place with the room of broken promises - the laundry room - where machines promise to clean socks, only offering half of them back. The rest are held captive in another dimension.

It's that place with all those meandering, unfocused moments. Moments when one can't hear one's self think from the chorus of kids' grievances regarding the dinner menu.

The moments when one is out of one's favorite coffee, so one makes do with the super tangy Christmas cookie flavored coffee. Of course, it's a warm spring morning, and now one's brain is confused by Seasonal Seasoning Disorder. It can put one's whole day out of whack, and the effort to reorder life leaves one considering tinsel's hauntingly common properties with Easter basket grass. Are they cousins? Siblings? Is tinsel the overachieving eldest sibling? What kind of person decides to make tinsel for a living?

What kind of person falls down the rabbit hole - every - single- day - like this?

A writer, with swirling worlds trapped inside her head.

At WWMW SCBWI - 2016, Sarah Aronson answered, "So what?!" "Play More!"

In her session on "Starting With Character," I learned these types of thoughts yield multitudes of seeds for creating rich characters. And, that a beginning of something is better than the beginning of nothing.

Her critique told me to take my seed, give it good stakes, use the tools at hand, have fun - but, grow the damn thing! My boring fears are not nourishing this character, nor the story.

And she's 1000% correct.

WWMW SCBWI - 2016 has been pure oxygen.

An atmosphere offering critiques that inspire me to get my hands dirty, instead of shrugging my shoulders and walking away, is simply crucial for my creative life.

No longer will I be a stranger in a strange land. The writing life IS my home.

Time to LEVEL UP and play!



 





 

May 1, 2016

Work In Progress w/Feedback

It's late. I need to get to sleep in order to refresh for tomorrow, but one last important element of the day.

Part of my efforts to throw myself into this weekend was to submit some of my work in hopes to get much needed feedback. The following text is one that has been in the works for a while. Polished more now than in the past, I submitted it to the conference competition in the Picture Book category. Here it is with the editor's very fair feedback beneath:

Hironimo Feck and Vesuvia Jean Save the Day!
Hironimo Feck and Vesuvia Jean
Were the two greatest friends there ever have been.
From the day they were born, two bundles of joy,
It was obvious to all, what charms they’d employ.


Together, such magic and wonder conceived,
With ideas so grand, they were hard to believe.
A box was a space capsule, the first mission to Mars
Or often a portal between Earth and the stars.


Some stared; some gawked, at these incorrigible two.
Their parents just shrugged “What can we do?”
“They love to write, they love to play…
They make it all up, each minute, all day!”


That is, until, with a knock at the door,
A package arrived at House #4.


It was sleek; it was shiny, all silver and slight
Unwrapped, it revealed an amazing sight!
Two small machines, one for each pair of hands,
Powered up with a BUZZ, a WHIZ-BANG and WHAM!
“Oooo…” Said Hironimo and Vesuvia Jean.
Their eyes grew enormous and glued to the screens.
With a FLICK and BLIP and a CLICK and a SWIPE,
Their fingers played games from noon until night...


And into the next morning, the one after, as well.
Their parents grew worried at this electronic spell,
For not one word was spoken between the two,
Only a whispered “YES!” or a quiet “woo-hoo!”
Their fingers they frenzied
CLICK-SWIPE-FLASH then ZOOM!
From hour to hour,
Silence smothered the room.


Their eyes grew red and watered from strain.
They never took breaks, no matter the pain.
Vitality was crushed with each finger swoop,
Enslaved by the games, their shoulders would droop.


When one week had passed, the parents declared,
“That’s enough! This must stop, we’re getting quite scared!”
They climbed over clothes, dust bunnies and dishes
Piled high ‘round Hironimo, and his bowl of pet fishes.


Their mother, she wrested, Father pried at their hands.
The struggle so fierce, the ruckus loud as a band!
Vesuvia screeched, tumbling down to the floor,
And rolled down the staircase, right out the front door!


The machines, they flew, high up into the air!
Then CLANK-BEEP-CRASHed into heaps of despair.
Smoke hissed from within – SIZZLE-POP and a FIZZ!
The machines were toast; the parents looked at their kids.


Glum Hironimo Feck and Vesuvia Jean,
Were the saddest two kids there ever have been.


No more FLICK-SWISH, no more WHIZ-BANG!
No more ZAP-ZOOM, no more BLIP-CHANG!
They sullenly plodded back up to their rooms,
Devoid of all feeling; consumed by their doom.


The parents they sat and looked round at the mess.
Not filled with regret, much more like distress.
This had all gone so wrong, not at all how they planned,
For the children were free, but they did not understand!


They loved them so much, and just wanted them back,
Bright Vesuvia Jean and smart Hironimo Feck.
Up the stairs, they tiptoed, to look in on the two,
Then smiled and nodded, knowing just what to do.


With a CLICK and a SNAP, then a ZAP with great flair,
The machines were all fixed, with no time to spare!
The parents they smiled, quite proud of their work,
“We must test them out,” Father said with a smirk.


“Look here! What’s this?!” Mother cried out with glee,
“I got two…no four! Can you not believe?”
With a FLICK and BLIP and a CLICK and a SWIPE,
Their fingers played games all day long into night…


And into the next morning, the one after, as well!
The children were startled by this electronic spell.
For, not one word was spoken between the two,
Only a whispered “YES!” or a quiet “woo-hoo!”


Poor Hironimo Feck and Vesuvia Jean,
The most bewildered kids there ever have been.
Stunned, and amazed, they hadn’t a clue
Their parents were hooked; they knew not what to do.


Mother’s fingers, they frenzied.
Father’s clicked, swiped and zoomed.
From hour to hour,
Silence stifled the room.


Her eyes grew red; His watered from strain.
They never took breaks, no matter the pain.
Vitality was crushed with each finger swoop.
Enslaved by the games, their shoulders did droop.


Enough time had passed, the children grew scared.
“That’s enough! This must stop!” they loudly declared.
Pushing back through the mess, the searched for supplies.
They donned black capes, even  masks for their eyes.


Brave Hironimo Feck and bold Vesuvia Jean,
Launched the most daring rescue you ever have seen!
From way up on high, to far down below,
Swung two masked crusaders with weapons en tow!


They careened down the staircase and out the front door,
Landing on top of each parent, games knocked to the floor.
The parents they swooned upon seeing the fray,
Each puzzled how quickly they had both lost their way.


Two small machines, one for each pair of hands,
Had turned on with a BUZZ, and went out with a BAM.
The parents, they gawked at these incorrigible two.
Their children just shrugged saying “What could we do?”
“We love you so much, forever, each day!
Those machines, we just couldn’t let them take you away!”


The parents they smiled, looking round at the mess!
They were filled with such pride, and knew they were blessed.
It had all gone so wrong, not at all how they planned.
But the children were free, and they DID understand!


The most clever children there ever have been,
Dear Hironimo Feck and Vesuvia Jean,
Learned balance is best when it comes to machines,

For, awareness is wisdom when managing screens.

Editor's Notes: While the moral of the story seemed important to the times in which we now live, it gets bogged down in everything from length of the characters' names, to the time needed to tell the story of both the parents' and childrens' digital addiction. Consider tightening up in terms of character and plot.
I will certainly consider it. More to come on Day 3! ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz