Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Matter of Perspective

This fall I'll be teaching two short classes at our local university's continuing ed center. One is on characterization. The other is on point of view. So I'm mulling over some thoughts, generally while I walk. You'd think I would remember to take my phone or my voice recorder with me to capture all the fantastic thoughts I rehearse with myself as I'm trekking through the neighborhood. Okay, they're probably only fantastic at the moment I think them, sort of like the notes you write down in the middle of the night and throw out in the morning. What on earth was I thinking!?

Anyway I generally don't remember the recorder until I'm about a half mile from home. But I'm rambling.

So, point of view. I took an online class a few years back with the Writers Studio. I highly recommend their classes. They teach the concept of a persona narrator. Instead of saying point of view, they talk about who is telling this story. As the author, I'm not really the storyteller. I create a persona narrator who tells the story from his/her perspective. It really is about perspective. How close is the persona narrator to the story, to the main character.

I had a fun interaction with a couple of my kids this weekend that illustrated the idea of perspective. My son, who lives in Minnesota was down for a few days. It gets hot fast in the Deep South, although I think this year it has been faster than normal. So my son and his Minnesota frame of reference could barely stand to be outside, despite the fact that he was raised here.

I talked with my daughter on the phone later that day. She's in Portland, Oregon. She was freezing.

"We took Stephen to dinner on Sunday night. The bank themometer read 102 at 6:30 in the evening," I told her. "I can't believe it's this hot already and it's not even June yet."

There was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone.

"It's 63 degrees in my house right now," she said. "And it's almost June."


When we got off the phone, I sent her this clip I had watched earlier in the day. I'm doing some research on Siberia.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Poetry Friday and a Tadpole Summer

I liked this poem that came today from Your Daily Poem. It's perfect for the last days of school as students, teachers, and parents take a deep breath on "the tadpole end of this adventure."

For more Poetry Friday, swim on over to My Juicy Little Universe where Heidi is hosting the round up.

Streamside, May 2010
by Suzanne Comer Bell

Dear Parents,

Forgive us. We’ve been swept away with your children.
We hope to return when school is over …
only, we don’t know exactly when that will be,
for school never ends, really,
and now that this year is finished (or nearly so!),
your child will be handed safely to another one of us—
passed along like raindrops in this cycle of life learning
that we’re all a part of—
we feel so fortunate, so fat-gilled, to have been on
the tadpole end of this adventure, that
we wanted to take a moment,
before the next wave arrives, and

our legs

Read the rest here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Virginia Geographic Regions

I'm very pleased with the reception of my new books on Virginia. Word is that they are flying off the shelves. This is a very good thing in Virginia. A recent state history text book was pulled from the system after pages of mistakes were found. My publisher and I worked closely with a Virginia curriculum chief and history guru in the Danville area. His input was invaluable as he critiqued and fact checked each manuscript.

The Virginia, My State books have been endorsed by the educators in state. We are grateful for their enthusiasm and affirmation.

Jill Ward, editor and publisher at State Standards Publishing launched her company three years ago. Her vision is to provide standard aligned books for state studies at grade level. The Virginia Geographic Regions series measures a solid fourth grade level in accelerated reader, Lexile, and guided reading levels.

If you're a Virginia educator and have used the books, I would love to hear from you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Poetry Friday: Sickle Cell Pain

Yesterday, I listened as a precious young woman took the pain she carried and placed it in hands bigger than hers. Two brothers lost to sickle cell anemia. And now a mother lost to Alzheimer's. I cried with her as she cried. Healing tears saturated with years of grief. It was my privilege to stand beside her on this journey.

I realized that I know almost nothing about sickle cell anemia. I thought it was one of those diseases that someone was finding a cure for. I was wrong.

Today, in honor of my friend and all those who suffer or have lost someone to sickle cell anemia, here is Jasmine Baily's "Sickle Cell."

There's more Poetry Friday with Julie over at The Drift Record.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gulf Coast Half Ironman

I spent Mother's Day at the beach.

My younger daughter was in the the Gulf Coast Half Ironman in Panama City Beach, Fla. It was quite an experience. After a 1.2 mile swim into the Gulf, while being lashed by jellyfish, they jumped on bikes and pedaled for 56 miles. Then with legs like jelly, they ran 13.1 miles. I was in awe.

Both my girls like running. They surely didn't get it from me. I was very proud of her.

An interesting part of the trip was seeing this community of athletes, the camaraderie they enjoy, and how supportive they are of one another.

It's a case of "You just don't get it until you experience it."

It made me think of children's authors.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Poetry Friday: Reading Moms

I have a few memories of my mother reading to me, and she awlays made sure I had books to read myself. I have wonderful memories of reading to my own children as they grew up. Now I love reading to my sweet grandbabies. I'm celebrating this poetry Friday, with Mother's Day sneaking up early, with Strickland Gillilan's tribute to his reading mother.

There's more Poetry Friday at The Family Bookshelf.

The Reading Mother
by Strickland Gillilan

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Catching Up

Okay, so I've been showing up at my writing desk and writing. But as you can see, I haven't shown up here lately. So grab a cup of coffee and let's catch up.

I have a few deadlines to meet, which always take precedence over platform development and blog posts. I even missed Poetry Friday last week! I have a proposal due in a few weeks for a follow up book with Christian Focus. My first middle-grades devotional book with them is due out in July. I'm excited about that, but we'll talk more about that as the time gets closer.

I have some work for hire books due this month, so I'm working hard right now to get those finished. They are first grade biographies and the challenge is to get enough facts in the books to qualify for an AR level, but to keep the sentence structure and language simple enough that the AR level below a 2.0. Nice challenge.

I finished up the rewrite of my middle grades novel. I've been working with Paula and Bob Morrow to help me get it in shape to send to an editor. They are a great team, if you're looking for an extraordinary critique service.

That elephant is still in the room, but I'm stroking its trunk and trying hard to convince the sweet thing to cooperate with me.

I have some fun family news, too. My oldest daughter graduated from the Aveda Institute in Portland and is now a licensed esthetician. I can't wait for her next visit and my own private facial from my sweet girl.

My younger daughter will be in the Panama City Half Ironman this weekend. We are heading down to watch. I'll be holding my breath, especially while she swims out into the Gulf!