Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Hi all . . . I haven't posted a teaser in quite a while and just wanted to run this by folks . . . it's a relatively new scene I've been trying to develop.

Just to set up the scene for you: my main character, Cleo, has gone to visit her great-grandmother (Ma Murr), a former slave, who lives a bit farther out in the country.


Ma Murr said, "Do it, chile! Run for your life!" She got a faraway look in her eyes. "Yes, yes." She nodded. "Just like I ran for mine. Mmm. hmm. You want to be free. Lum and Jenny ain't free 'cause they still working for Boss Man. But you, chile, you has a chance to be free. Grab it!"
She twisted around, causing Cleo to abruptly stop combing her silvery, waist-length hair. "You hearin' me, chile?"

Cleo blinked. "Y-Y-Yes, Ma'am." Ma Murr always gave her the willies with that piercing stare.

Ma Murr smiled, content with her preaching. "Good. Good. Go on home, now. We's finished for today."

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Big 3-0

No, I'm NOT turning 30 (unfortunately!), just celebrating the fact that I now have 30 followers! And, even though I'm not (yet) consistent with my posts, I just wanted to say thank you(THANK YOU!) to all who still follow my blog (or even just pop in occasionally) for sticking with me.

And so, taking a cue from this post by Karen Strong over at Musings of a Novelista, I am going to list 30 things you may, or may not, know about me:

1) I have 1 brother who is 6 years younger than me.
2) I wear glasses (mainly when driving).
3) I wore a uniform for 12 years.
4) No, I wasn't in the military, just Catholic school (1st thru 12th grade).
5) I am not Catholic, though.
6) I grew up in New York City, specifically upper Manhattan, and more specifically the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem.
(If you're interested in this section of Harlem, wikipedia explains it much better than I ever could.)
7) I am often mistaken for being Hispanic.
8) Unfortunately, I do not know any Spanish.
9) However, I did take 3 years of French in high school, which still doesn't help because I've pretty much forgotten all of it. So . . . I would still need a French dictionary if I ever went to France.
10) Facts of Life was a favorite show as a kid. AND so was Diff'rent Strokes, Brady Bunch, Wonder Woman, The Jeffersons, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and . . . I could probably go on & on . . . brings back great memories of childhood, though!
11) I graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
12) My majors in college were English & Economics.
13) However, I did not get a job on Wall Street.
14) I did get a job in reference publishing.
15) I have an ancient computer. No, seriously, it is ANCIENT, like the monitor has the huge back to it circa the 1990s. I know, I know, it is definitely time for a new one.
16) My husband is a cook/chef, and yes, he can cook much better than me, thank the Lord!
17) We have 2 daughters.
18) AND my mother and grandmother live with us. Yes, you heard, er, read that right.
19) Which is why I mainly write late at night when EVERYONE is asleep.
20) Love Your Life by Victoria Osteen is a favorite inspirational book.
21) And also Reposition Yourself by T.D. Jakes
22) I don't drink. (Well, ONLY socially--and even then I mainly favor margaritas & daiquiris)
23) I don't smoke, and have never tried. Nope, not even once!
24) I can't swim.
25) My favorite pastry is a chocolate croissant.
26) And I LOVE white chocolate in practically any form.
27) I am also partial to lemon meringue pie.
28) I got my first library card when I was 8 years old.
29) I first found out I had somewhat of a talent for writing when I was 16 years old during a semester of creative writing in high school. I'd often receive a fiction writing assignment handed back with "Is this real?" or "Did this really happen?" jotted at the bottom of a story.
30) But I did not seriously think of writing for publication (or even writing children's books at all)till 20 years later.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

I just wanted to offer my condolences to those who lost loved ones and/or were injured themselves in NYC or at The Pentagon on the morning of 9/11/01. It was an awful, tragic day that no one will ever forget.

My mother (who retired 2 years ago) at the time worked in lower Manhattan for the City of New York as a clerical aide for the NYPD & actually saw from her desk window the first plane hit Building 1 of the WTC but thought it was an accident--at first. Then, when the 2nd plane hit, the impact shook her whole building (which was probably 10-15 blocks away). She said everyone (well, everyone on her floor anyway) grabbed their purses/bags and ran down the stairs to the street level. But once they got outside, it was, of course, utter chaos. She said everyone on the sidewalk was running for buses, trains, whatever to get away from the debris falling from the sky. She said she didn't dare look up to see exactly WHAT was falling/flying through the air, and also the STENCH was so horrible you had to cover your nose & mouth as you ran. But run she did and made the last train uptown to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station to catch a bus back home to Jersey. During this time I had also left work (in the Bronx) & was on my to the GWB as well. But, as we soon found out (I somehow met up with her at the GWB), the GWB was CLOSED until it was deemed safe for buses to cross.

While we waited, we struck up a conversation I will never forget with a woman who escaped from no. 1 WTC after the first plane hit. She was on a lower floor and decided to leave right then & there. At that time, no one knew exactly what was happening, she said. And no one else wanted to leave but her. When she got down to the ground floor (elevators were still working at that time), it was a madhouse outside, debris from the plane, bodies, etc. everywhere. She said after she ran a block & looked back, her building was coming down. She didn't think anyone else in her company made it out alive. And this woman was amazingly calm (or maybe in shock?). My mother & I just listened in awe as she told this story.

The GWB finally reopened around 6 or 7 p. m. We got home around 8 p.m., but some people we later learned didn't make it home till around 11 p.m. or so. It was just an awful, awful, awful, day we will never forget.

Thanks for listening. I hope I didn't depress anyone; just wanted to share my experience.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thoughts on a Thursday

Books on Writing for Children

Hi all!

Yesterday, I was rummaging around my bookshelf and noticed I had accumulated quite a few titles on writing for children. So I thought I'd list them. Now those of you who've been writing for some years probably already own many of these. But for the newer writers out there, I hope these books will offer the same hope, direction, and inspiration that they have provided (and still provide) me along my writing journey.

Here they are (in no particular order):

1) The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb

2) Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

3) How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published (3rd ed.) by Barbara Seuling

4) Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin

5) How to Write and Sell Children's Picture Books by Jean E. Karl

6) Writing Fiction for Children by Judy K. Morris

7) Writing for Children & Teenagers (3rd ed.) by Lee Wyndham

8) Writing & Publishing Books for Children in the 1990s; the inside story from the editor's desk by Olga Litowinsky

9) The ABCs of Writing for Children; 114 children's authors and illustrators talk about the Art, the Business, the Craft, & the Life of Writing Children's Literature; compiled by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

10) How to Write a Children's Picture Book; learning from The Very Hungry Caterpillar . . . and other favorite stories by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock

11) Origins of story; on writing for children; edited by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire (NOTE: this is a collection of lectures presented at various symposiums sponsored by Children's Literature New England, by such authors as Ursula K. Le Guin, Katherine Paterson, Maurice Sendak, Susan Cooper, Sharon Creech, Margaret Mahy, Tom Feelings, Jill Paton Walsh, and Virginia Hamilton)

And, of course, the ANNUAL directory no children's writer should be without: the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM). I believe the 2010 edition is now available!

And if you have any particular book(s) on writing for children, or writing in general, that you refer to often please feel free to share them here. Thanks! :)