Friday, December 28, 2012

Fact or fiction: Violinist in the cemetery

She went to his grave every day. It was like breathing. Automatic. Something she did without thinking. It had become routine. Not in a bad way. Not like when she recited the confession in church, saying the words but not really paying attention to what they meant. But routine in the way that if she didn’t come, her day wouldn't feel quite right. Like drinking a gin and tonic and instead of her usual Tanqueray No. 10 she was stuck with Seagram’s Extra Dry, a piss poor substitute. She could taste the difference, even with extra lime.

Once, she tried not coming. She almost got through the whole day, too. But when she closed her eyes that night, she saw his face. He was beckoning her. Next thing she knew she was on her knees in front of the small granite grave, her nightgown bunched up around her.

She didn’t know she had company. Didn’t see him staring from a few graves away. Normally, he came when the day was closing its eyes. But today was an exception. Today, he was there before the morning could finish its yawn. He had to be at the airport by 8.

He watched her fingers dance across her chest, making the sign of the cross. Her flaming red hair licked her back like a rolling fire. He wondered if she had a temper. Isn’t that what they said about redheads? She didn’t look like the temper type.  She looked more delicate. Maybe it was her pale skin or that a violin case lay open beside her.

It was the music that first drew him near. Her sweet notes drifted like snowflakes and he felt like a boy, wanting to capture them on his tongue and savor forever. When he followed the musical trail, he found her playing a lullaby. Sweet and flowing with a tinge of sadness.


Fact or fiction? Read on to find out.



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Auld Lang Syne

Here are the words in case you want to sing along.

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for days of auld lang syne.

We two have run around the hills

And pulled the daisies fine.

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot

Since the days of auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream

From morn till the sun was down.

But seas between us two have roared

Since days of auld lang syne.

So here’s a hand my trusty friend.

Give us a hand of thine.

We’ll take a good-will drink again

For auld lang syne.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I wish you a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas tree angel brings hope in wake of Newtown school shootings


My son made this construction paper angel in elementary school. It’s topped our tree every year since.

The other night when I looked up at the angel, tears pooled in my eyes. He was 6 when he made the ornament, the same age as Benjamin Wheeler and Allison Wyatt and Avielle Richman and Jessica Rekos and Emilie Parker and Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner and Jesse Lewis and James Mattioli and Caroline Previdi and Madeleine Hsu and Catherine Hubbard and Ana  Marquez-Greene and Dylan Hockley and Charlotte Bacon and Olivia Engel.

Six.

When you’re 6, you have your whole life ahead of you.

When you’re 6, your biggest worry should be how much the Tooth Fairy’s going to give you for the nugget you spent all day wiggling loose.

Monday, December 17, 2012

School shooting: Outpouring of love

When I look at this slideshow of the outpouring of love by Newtown, Conn., folks, tears pool in my eyes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The power of love


I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately, specifically the power of love. Love saves, overcomes, defeats and endures.  

Time and again in literature we’ve seen the power of love. It’s what saves Harry Potter. It’s the one thing that Voldemort can’t defeat. The one thing his dark mind can't begin to comprehend. 

I was watching “Fringe” the other night (it’s about the only show I watch) and love saved one of the characters. Peter had implanted tech in his brain that improved the logical side but overrode parts of his brain that controlled emotions. He became robotic and was almost lost for good before love saved him.

It was his love for Olivia and her love for him that enabled Peter to reconnect with his emotional side and return to the man he once was.

Do you think love strengthens us or weakens us? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

When writing connects with readers

As a writer, I want to connect with people. I want my words to mean something, to matter. I want my readers to feel and think, and remember. To be moved and touched by the ramblings of my mind. 

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I'll hear from a reader or two. And when this happens, it's like an unexpected snow day. A blanket of pure goodness that makes everything pretty and bright. 

Such was the case when my column, Remember those who are grieving this holiday season. was published.

There was this note from Fawn:


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fact or Fiction: A boy and a tattoo


 Will stood on a blue plastic stool in front of the bathroom mirror. His chubby fingers clutched the black magic marker as he drew “barbed wire” around 6-year-old bicep. He wanted a tattoo like his dad’s. He missed his dad. He didn’t understand why he left, except that his dad and mom were always fighting. 

 It got worse after the twins were born. Will’s dad stayed away more and more and when he did come home, he smelled like he had been pickled in booze and bar smoke. Will liked it much better when it was just him. He didn’t ask for the twins. And he was pretty sure, from all of the shouting, that his mom and dad hadn't either. 


Is this fact or fiction? Read on to find out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Twitter Fiction Festival: elements of writing and what I learned

Writing a novel via Twitter is challenging, especially if you use the medium in the way users do. That means incorporating hashtags and @ signs and twitpics into your tweets. It means your protagonist telling the story as it is happening. We call this live tweeting.  

Well, I love challenges and this was one that I couldn’t wait to take on. I had been thinking about it for awhile but the Twitter Fiction Festival gave me the push I needed.

My idea was simple. I wanted to tweet a middle-grade novel aimed at kids 8 to 12, and I wanted to tweet it as if it were occurring in real time. I chose a novel that was plot driven because I thought it would hold the attention of tech-savvy kids who prefer video games over books. 



Monday, December 3, 2012

Twitter Fiction Festival: Brain Invaders by the numbers

Here’s an interesting look at my entry in the Twitter Fiction Festival by the numbers. Read compilation of my tweets.

869: the number of tweets posted during the festival from the @Brain_Invaders account

96+: the number of hours of continuous tweets

4: the number of days over which the story unfolded

5: the number of minutes between each tweet

29: the number of followers of @Brain_Invaders on Twitter at the time of this post

45: the number of likes on Facebook at the time of this post

To read about the social media platforms I used during the festival, go here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Remember those grieving this holiday season

Here is my Sunday newspaper column, Enjoy!


I love Christmas.

I love everything about it.

The sights and sounds and smells. Spending time with family and friends. Listening to Christmas carols. Wrapping gifts. And the food. The fabulous food I only get to eat this time of the year.

And yet, for as much joy as this holiday brings, it also brings a sleigh full of sadness.

 Go here to read it all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Twitter Fiction: Brain Invaders begins

Read my Twitter Fiction, Brain Invaders, by:


Following  @Brain_Invaders on Twitter with hashtags #Twitterfiction and #Invaders

OR

bookmark this post. I will curate the tweets via Storify, turn them into a slideshow and embed it here. You can read the tweets in succession, flipping through the slides.

I hope you enjoy it. I would love to hear your feedback. I'm particularly interested in how you consumed the story. Did you read it by following Twitter account? By following the hashtags? By reading it here? Did you read it in one sitting? One chapter at a time? etc.

This middle-grade novel is aimed at kids, ages 8 to 12. I wanted to target a younger audience on this platform to not only introduce them to Twitter (if they aren't already using it) but also to see if I could capture their attention (Competing with all kinds of entertainment tech toys!) and get them reading (too many aren't) in a way these tech-savvy kids might enjoy. Also, I hope to capture the reluctant reader with the plot-driven novel and quick way of consuming it.  

The slideshow (below) will update as the tweets post. The tweets have been scheduled via Hootsuite.





THE FINAL SHOWDOWN (CHAPTERS 12-16)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twitter Fiction Festival: Brain Invaders

DRATS! I WASN'T selected for the Twitter Fiction Festival. BUT the organizers have invited anyone (whether you submitted or not) to participate.

They'll highlight some of the stories from the @Twitterbooks account. If you want to join in the fun, just use the #twitterfiction hashtag.

Here are the winners and here is the showcase page for the festival.

I will be tweeting my story from @Brain_Invaders  It will start 11 a.m. Nov. 29. I will also be curating the tweets via Storify. Embed to come. You can follow the feed with the following hashtags: #twitterfiction and #invaders

When holidays aren 't merry


She didn’t know I was there. How could she? She was dead, buried in the hard ground six feet under.

I ran my fingertips over the gray granite tombstone, outlining her name one letter at a time. God how I missed her. Damn cancer. I’ve never hated anything so much.

I smiled, remembering my big sister, the one who always made everything all right. The one who ate my vegetables when my parents weren’t looking. The one who took me shopping and bought me things I didn’t need but wanted. My biggest cheerleader when it came to my writing. “Sure, I’ll read it,” she’d say. And she did. And she loved it, or at least pretended to.

This time of year is especially difficult for me. The holidays always amplify my pain. Mom. Dad. Wendy. Brad. I miss them all, and I wish they were here.

If you are missing someone this holiday season, my heart goes out to you. May the peace of the season comfort you and may your memories be a balm to heal your hurting heart. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Twilight's Edward Cullen makes a good turkey

So, we had a turkey decorating contest at work today. I whipped this up in 10 minutes and guess what? I won scariest and got a basket of candy. Notice blood dripping from mouth and he sparkles.


Monday, November 19, 2012

FDR photo published in 1945 in Philadelphia Record found in old dictionary


I found this photo on newsprint tucked inside an old dictionary on my shelf. This is the wording under the photo:


Franklin Delano Roosevelt
In Memoriam
1882-1945

On the lower left it says: Supplement to the Philadelphia Record, Sunday, April 15, 1945. 


Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, died on April 12, 1945. He is the only American president elected to more than two terms.  

I was not familiar with The Philadelphia Record until looking it up. It was a daily newspaper published from 1877 until 1947.

I wonder which of my family members tucked this into the dictionary so many years ago? Could have been my grandfather or grandmother. Maybe my dad. And I wonder if they ever imagined someone finding it more than 60 years later. 

What's the neatest thing you've ever found tucked inside a book? Chris Otto, my co-worker and friend, over at Papergreat writes about this all of the time. He has some uber cool stuff. Check out his blog. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Twitter Fiction Festival judges announced

Deadline to enter Twitter Fiction Contest is Thursday. The selected authors will be posted Nov. 19.  If you were wondering who the judges are, check out this post.  The festival will kick off on Nov. 28 and run for five days.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A run, a literary agency and the importance of perseverance

I have been dealing with a crappy cold for several weeks. On Sunday, I felt somewhat normal. Not 100 percent, but well enough to attempt a run. So I laced up and took off.

I was determined not to stop and walk -- no matter what. I labored through mile after mile, surprised at how much my legs hurt. At times, I thought I was going to die.

It wasn’t pretty, but I made it. I had run seven miles, a feat I wasn't sure I could do considering I hadn't exercised in weeks.

But something kicked during the first mile. The determination to finish, to persevere. It reminded me of my writing journey. How important it is to hold onto our dreams and not give up.


On Saturday, my literary agency (AKA Literary) held a conference call with its authors. We come from around the country -- East Coast, West Coast, Midwest. I’m so blessed to be part of this amazing group. And I’ve come to realize just how special this agency is.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Google Doodle honors Bram Stoker

Today's Google Doodle honors Bram Stoker, who wrote "Dracula." Stoker would have been 165 years old. The novel was published in 1897. He died April 20, 1912. 
More about Bram Stoker:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fact or fiction: Living a lie

I wasn’t sure what to do. How do you tell someone that you don’t love them anymore. At least not in the way they want you to, not in the way you should or once did. It was easier when there wasn’t so much at stake, when years were mere days. And yet I couldn’t go on living the lie. Not anymore.

How does this happen? How do you spend most of your life with someone only to realize you don’t want to spend the rest of it with them?

I looked into the mirror and saw a stranger staring back at me. Somewhere along the way I’d lost myself. What happened to all the dreams I had? What happened to me?

I miss me  -- all that I was and all that I’d hoped to be. Life is strange, sometimes. You go about living it day by day, not paying too much attention. It’s like breathing. It just happens.

But then one day you struggle for air and you realize that time is running out to do all of the things you wanted to do and be all of the things you’d hoped to be. It whacks you over the head like a falling tree in a forest of sadness.

That’s when you know you have to clear a path and crawl out.  


Is this fact or fiction? Read on to find out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The journalist and writer in me

Some of you know me as an author, others as a journalist. I’m often asked how I balance the two and deal with the obvious differences.

For starters, I’m a journalist by day and a writer by night. To be honest, I’m also a journalist by night (and weekends) as well. Those in the industry know that you never stop being a journalist. It’s a 24/7 career.

For example, last weekend I curated photos using a tool that allows me to find geotagged information from anywhere in the world. On Saturday, I curated images from the Penn State vs. Ohio State game. On Sunday, I curated images from a local beer/wine festival. And then Sandy hit and I was busy for the better part of this week curating content from areas hard hit. (If you’re interested in these slideshows, check out my social media blog.)

Most people think that because I’m a journalist, I would write non-fiction. But I don’t. It’s not that I can't, but I prefer writing fiction where I can create my own characters and build my own worlds. 


Yes, it’s very different than what I do as a journalist. And maybe that’s why I like it so much. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Twitter Fiction Festival call for entries

So who's entering the Twitter Fiction Festival? 

From its blog post: At the end of November, we’ll host a five-day Twitter Fiction Festival — a virtual storytelling celebration held entirely on Twitter. The Twitter Fiction Festival (#twitterfiction) will feature creative experiments in storytelling from authors around the world.

Follow this link to enter. And good luck if you decide to try. Submissions due by Nov. 15. Selected authors and festival agenda will be posted on Nov. 19. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fact or fiction: A cancer diagnosis

It’s like waking up to a surprise snowstorm. One day everything’s fine and the next day you’re buried in a foot of white stuff so heavy you can’t move.

You’re not prepared. You thought you had time -- years, not months. But months are what you have.

Suddenly, everything you’ve ever wanted to do becomes more important. Little things mean a lot and big things aren’t so big anymore.

I’ve always marveled at people who can live in the moment. That’s hard for me, especially when life seems to pull me in a million directions at once.

Well, it’s not pulling anymore. The light’s turned red and I’ve skidded to a halt.

I’ve learned I have cancer.

I don’t know how to tell Ella. She’s lost so much already. Her mom, dad. sister. I’m all she has left. Well, me and Maddie. Don’t know where I’d be without Maddie. She’s always been like an aunt to Ella.

Maybe I’ll write Ella notes, a whole year’s worth. One for every day after I’m gone. If I start today, maybe I’ll finish in time. 

Death never waits. 

Fact or fiction? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A snippet of real life


Shoppers looking for deals packed the discount store. Like bees to pollen, they were drawn to the books section.  

I had stopped to look for some toddler Bibles and to pick up a few gift bags. As usual, I left with a lot more.

While standing in line to pay for my bargains, a girl walked in. She was thin and her long brown hair was parted on the left side and pulled back.

My 20-something cashier said something to her. I don’t remember what he said; I only remember her reply.  

“I got married today.”

It was around 2 in the afternoon. She had gotten married that morning and was at work a few hours later.

Now that's real life. 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Bermuda: Sir David Gibbons home


The taxi driver we hired for a few hours took us to the home of Sir David Gibbons. Gibbons, a member of the Gibbons family of the department store fame, was a former premier. He opens his home Monday through Thursday. 

You can't see it well, but the pond contains a grassy relief in the shape of Bermuda. You can get out and walk around it. It's absolutely beautiful. Here's a view of the garden from above, which gives you a better picture. 




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bermuda: Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas


We cruised on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas to Bermuda. It was my first time on the Explorer, although I've been on its sister ship, Navigator of the Seas, twice. Both of these ships include climbing rock wall, basketball court, miniature golf course, ice rink, Royal Promenade (Think Main Street in a city), live performances, casino and more. We always get an outside balcony room.

Here are two photos of the ship along with a monkey our room attendant made us one night and hung from a pant hanger. 





Other Bermuda posts: 




Fort St. Catherine

St. Peter's Church



Friday, October 19, 2012

Bermuda: The Mid Ocean Club in Tucker's Town


On our tour of Bermuda, we stopped at the Mid Ocean Club in Tucker's Town. What a beautiful course!  The golf course, built in 1921, hosted PGA Grand Slams in 2007 and 2008. According to its website, it was also the venue where President Eisenhower met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1953.









Other Bermuda posts: 



Fort St. Catherine

St. Peter's Church

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bermuda: Graves above ground


I thought it was interesting that many graves in Bermuda are above ground but the bodies are buried 6 feet under. Our taxi driver/tour guide told us that generations are buried in one plot. This saves space.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Horror movie quote quiz

I'm not a fan of horror. I learned long ago that watching a horror film means not sleeping soundly for weeks, maybe months. The last horror film I watched was "The Silence Of The Lambs" in 1991. Even mentioning it here makes me break out in goosebumps. Yeah, it creeped me out big time.

But since it's the season for all things scary, I've come up with this quiz. Name the horror movie that contained the following quote. Answers on jump. 

1.  “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." 

2. “Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!"

3. “I see dead people.”

4. “He-e-e-e-re’s Johnnie!”

5. “Listen to them, the children of the night. What sweet music they make.”

6. “Get away from her, you bitch.”

7. "If only it was the picture who was to grow old, and I remain young. There's nothing in the world I wouldn't give for that. Yes, I would give even my soul for it."

8. “It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”

9. “Hi, I’m Chucky, wanna play?”

10. “They’re Heee-re.”

11. "Whatever you do, don't fall asleep."

12. "Oh, yes, there will be blood."



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fact or fiction: The broken nail


“Maddie! Maddie!” Ella screamed.

Maddie ran into Ella’s bedroom.

“Where’s the nail?" asked Ella, tears pooling in her eyes. "Where’s Grandma’s nail?”

Maddie scratched her head. “You mean the broken nail that was on your dresser?"

Ella nodded.

“Why, I threw it out. I found it when I was dusting and thought it was trash.”

Tears exploded from Ella’s eyes. “No! It wasn’t trash. It was Grandma's nail. The only piece of her that hasn't been turned into ashes and stuffed inside a stupid urn."

           Maddie wrapped her thick arms around Ella and kissed the top of her head. “Calm down, Ella.  We’ll dig through the trash until we find it.”

            Maddie dumped the contents of the trash can into the bathtub. They dug through white tissues, a rolled-up toothpaste tube, strands of slimy dental floss and dirty Q-tips.


            Just when Ella was about to give up, she spotted a hint of rose in the folds of a crumpled piece of paper. She reached for the paper and picked out the jagged tip.


            “Maddie," Ella sniffed. "I know you probably think I’m acting childish, and you’re probably thinking how stupid it is for someone to keep a fingernail. But when I see this nail it reminds me of Grandma’s beautiful hands and her long nails that she always painted. Even when she was too sick to paint her nails herself, she’d ask me to paint them for her.”


Is this fact or fiction? Read on to find out

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bermuda: Colorful cottages

Bermuda is chock-full of colorful houses. The square pastel cottages with their white stepped roofs add a certain charm to the island. Besides rain, there is no fresh water supply so the limestone roofs are designed to catch rain water. The limestone purifies the rain as it drains into underground cisterns. Bermudians use this water to drink, cook and bathe.

Here are some photos of the beautiful quaint cottages that dot the hilly island.








Friday, October 12, 2012

Writing prompt: The minute I did it I knew I was in trouble…


Let’s have some fun. It’s been awhile since I’ve given you a writing prompt. Here it is:  The minute I did it I knew I was in trouble…

Keep it to around 200 words. Here’s what I wrote. Can’t wait to see yours in comments.

The minute I did it I knew I was in trouble. You don’t tell your mama to shut up and get away with it. Not my mama anyway. She whipped around faster than the dog chasing its tail and whacked me a good one right across my face.  It stung worse than a billion bees and left a big old red mark.

“What’s that on your face?” Addy asked.

Addy found me crying in my apple tree. It’s my thinkin’ place, the place where I go when I hate mama. And right now, I’m hatin' her good. I only told her to shut up because she was yammering about me being dumb. I’m tired of being dumb. I want to be smart. Like Addy. That’s what mama says, anyway. Addy’s smart; I’m not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bermuda: Fort St. Catherine in the historic town of St. George


Fort St. Catherine is located on the northern tip of St. George's. 


On my recent trip to St. George's in Bermuda, I toured Fort St. Catherine. The fort is located at the northeast tip of Bermuda and overlooks the ocean. It was built on the spot where Sir George Somers and the original settlers wrecked in 1609.

Hubs and I enjoyed touring the fort, winding our way through its many tunnels and recesses and exploring its towers, redoubts and ramparts. I was amazed at the condition of the fort, which has changed little from the late Victorian Period. Visitors can tour the Powder Magazine, Keep, Cook House and Soldier's Room.  It contains an extensive 19th century gun collection and an incredible view from the roof. 

Here are some more photos of the fort:

This is a view of the fort from the ferry.

Poll: Who is the scariest character?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fact or fiction: Yapper in the house


Her mouth flapped faster than the American flag whipping the metal pole in the spring green yard. Just when I thought a period was coming and she’d stop and take a breath the sentence ran on – and on and on and on.

 It was like watching my wheaten cairn terrier eat up the yard looking for that dang brown bunny, the one that teases him from the other side of the glass patio door. I swear that if the bunny don't die the dog will trying to catch it.

Like the cairn, she was on a topic and she wasn't going to let it go until she killed it. Her rubbery lips fast danced and her mouth spewed gossip like it was a volcano that couldn't keep its fiery guts from boiling out.

After awhile, I stopped listening. Like I sometimes do in church when Pastor Greg’s voice slides into a lullaby. You’re looking and nodding but your mind is somewhere else. Maybe you’re thinking about the Moose Tracks ice cream in the freezer and wondering if there’s any left. Maybe you’re thinking you need to clip your nails or shave or… Hell, I don’t know. You’re thinking a million things other than what you should be thinking. And that’s when it happens. She notices your glassy eyes, the way your melon-sized head bobs and your heavy eyelids crawl closed.

“Are you even listening to me?” she spits in your face.

 And you know you’ve been caught mingling with more interesting subject matter – like Moose Tracks ice cream. So the question is do you tell her the truth and admit you played mental hooky (which means she’s going to start over and you’ll be listening to her yap for another hour) or lie.

 I lie. Try to sit still. Keep my eyes focused on her acrobatic lips.

 “I thought you said you were listening to me?”

I twist in my seat like I’ve got to pee. “Sorry. I’m listening. Totally. I promise.”

“As I was saying…”

And all I can think about for the next 30 minutes is how much I want to eat the Moose Tracks ice cream. When she shuts up, er leaves, I leap for the freezer only to find that someone’s beaten me to it.

The Moose Tracks is gone – and so it my sanity.

Is this fact or fiction? Read on to find out. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

Bermuda: St. Peter's Church in St. George's a historic jewel


Hi everyone! I'm back from my cruise to Bermuda, and I wanted to share some of the sites I saw while there. Today's post is about the beautiful St. Peter's Church in the historic town of St. George's.

St. Peter's is the oldest Anglican Church outside the British Isles and the oldest Protestant church in continuous use in the New World.

This year marks the 400th year since the founding of the church. On March 18, 2012, Queen Elizabeth II granted the church the title Their Majesties' Chappell.

It's difficult to adequately describe how I felt when I walked into this church. I love historic buildings, and this one, with its exposed cedar beams and pews, took my breath away.

Here are a few tidbits:

  • The Communion table, made in 1612, is the oldest piece of Bermuda furniture.
  • A servants gallery was added in 1721 so that black people could attend services in the church.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Words and actions matter


As the new school year shifts into high gear, I’m reminded of a conversation that occurred as my days as a senior at Northeastern High School were coming to an end.
A teacher asked me if I had any words of wisdom, anything that I thought she should know that would help her be a better instructor. I was surprised that a teacher would actually ask a student for advice or feedback.
My respect for her deepened that day, as her sincerity was apparent. She really cared about what I thought.
Imagine, a teacher asking me for advice. Wow. That was a new one.
I remember telling her..

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An unexpected sign


An accountant friend who was considering going to seminary told me that she asked God for a sign. If she received flowers by the end of the day, it meant it was the right path for her.

The hours ticked by but no flowers came. She thought for sure a delivery truck would pull up to her house and a smiling driver would deliver a beautiful arrangement.

It was the end of the day and she was outside working in her yard when suddenly her small son bounced up to her.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fact or fiction: Scratches left behind

She sits in the back of the church.

Alone.

Empty pews in front of her; empty pews behind.

She turns to face the back of the pew and rubs her veiny hand over the scratches - scratches made from his suspenders.

She imagines him sitting there, shifting in the pew, the metal holding his criss-crossed suspender straps in place digging into the mahogany.    


Decades of sitting.

Decades of digging.

Decades of scratches left behind.. 

Like the wooden scars that mark the place where he sat, mental scars mark the souls he mistreated.

She wonders if anyone else knows about the marks.

All that’s left of a life once lived is the destruction left behind.

Is this fact or fiction. Read on to find out.

Monday, September 24, 2012

WOOT! 'The Tree With No Branches' hits stores


A super big day for my AKA teammate John Newcomb, aka Johnny Knew. His book "The Tree With No Branches" hit stores today. It's an awesome book with a wonderful message. A must-have for any child on your Christmas list. (I shop early! *Smiles*)

Here's a preview of the book. And make sure you check out John's fun website, Knewville.

To learn more about John (Like what book he learned the most from. Trust me. It will surprise you!), read my interview with him. 

Congrats John!

Minute list: Fall


It’s officially fall. To celebrate, let’s do a minute list. You know the drill. I list a word and you use one word to describe it. 

Copy and paste the list into comments and add your words. Mine is in ()’s. It shouldn’t take more than a minute.

Apple (juicy)
Pumpkin (neck)
Leaves (falling)
Football games (loud)
Homecoming dress (strapless)
Bonfire (hot)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fact or fiction: The pleading eyes


Whenever I closed my eyes, I saw my sister’s. They invaded my dreams like termites, feeding on my peace and leaving sleep-deprived nights in their wake. It got so that I hated to close my eyes because I would see hers – those beautiful cocoa eyes begging me, pleading with me, to take her home.

 But I couldn’t take her home. Death was near and there was no beating Death.

So I sat in her hospital room and watched her die.

Fact or fiction? Read on to find out. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'd like to think that...


I’d like to think that:

People are inherently good.

Good always overcomes evil.

What goes around comes around.

BUT, that doesn’t always happen.

People are bad.

Evil sometimes wins.

And what goes around never comes around.

That’s life.

But fiction is different. Or, at least we can make it so.

When I write, good always overcomes evil, the jerk always gets what’s coming to him and despite the bad people there are good people to root for.

How about you?  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

How I edit my reporters' stories



Yesterday, I promised a post about how I edit my reporters’ stories. Every editor is different but this process has worked well for me.

 First, I read through the entire story. I look at the big picture. Did he talk to enough sources? The right sources? Is the story structured in a way that makes sense? Is it fair? Accurate? Are all sides represented? Are key voices heard? Are the voices reflective of the community we live it?

I often describe this as looking at the story through a wide angle lens. As I continue to go over the story time and time again, my focus narrows.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Patience is not one of my virtues


I’m not very patient, especially when I’m super excited about something – like my writing.

As a journalist, I can’t wait for my editor to read my column or story. I’m anxious to see what he thinks or what he found awkward or unclear or how I can make it better.

 Ditto when I submit a novel to my agent.  Will she like it? Will she think there’s a market for it? Is it good? How can I make it better?

So I wait for feedback, checking my email constantly. And when it doesn’t come and doesn’t come, I begin to wonder. What if she’s not emailing me because she thinks it stinks and doesn’t want to tell me?

Of course, my mind sprints in this direction when there’s a perfectly logical explanation: she’s busy. I’m not her only client. Still, it’s tough waiting.

Am I alone or are you like this? How do you keep from checking your email every minute of the day?

As an editor, I try to read my writers’ stories as quickly as I can. I know they, like me, are waiting for feedback. I’ll discuss my editing process in tomorrow’s post. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fact or fiction: Stranger on the rail trail


The guy was creeping me out. Despite my best efforts to shake him, he was catching up fast. I was too tired to run any faster. My legs hurt, and I was only on mile two. My best bet was to stay on the trail and hope that I’d see someone else soon.

See, I kept reprimanding myself. This is why you don’t run alone on the rail trail. I should have known better. Normally, I run with Erica. But today, she woke up with a major migraine. So, I decided to go it alone, ignoring that little voice inside of me that was warning me not to

What could happen this early in the morning? I told myself. No one is as crazy as you to run the rail trail at 6 a.m. Most people wait for a more respectable hour.

Despite The Voice, I laced up my Nikes and tore out the door. And now, as the man dressed in black got closer and closer, I fumbled for my pepper spray. At least I was smart enough to bring that. My heart pounded. It felt like it was going to pop out of my chest.

I didn’t see the pothole in time. I stumbled and tumbled to the ground. The pepper spray rolled out of reach, and the man dressed in black was beside me.

Fact or fiction? Read on to find out. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tooth Fairy spurs money talk

According to a survey by Visa, the Tooth Fairy, on average, leaves $3 per tooth — up 15 percent over last year.

Upon hearing this report, discussion erupted in the newsroom. Journalists talked about what they got when they were kids or, if they were parents, how much they gave their kids.

There were a couple of gems that I heard and mentally filed away for use in a middle grade novel.

Eileen said when she was a kid, she got 25 cents for a tooth. Her friend received a dollar. So Eileen, convinced that her friend got more because her friend's tooth was shinier, spent the whole day buffing her tooth. The next morning when she peeked under her pillow hoping for a dollar, she saw only a quarter. (Poor kid)

Then Eileen proceeded to tell us about the time she swallowed her tooth and, despite having no "evidence" for the Tooth Fairy,  still got a quarter. So, it kind of made up for her parents being cheapskates, at least temporarily.

Do you have a Tooth Fairy story? How much did you get? Give?