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.


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? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writers: fact or fiction?

A squirrely man, dressed in khaki shorts, a black T-shirt and flip-flops walks up to the door of a convenience store. He stops a few feet short of the door and takes a drag of his cigarette. Before entering, he balances the cigarette on the narrow brick ledge in front of the large window. He walks in, buys whatever (probably more cigarettes) and walks back out. He walks over and picks up the cigarette, which is now almost a stub, and takes one last long drag.

 Fact or fiction? Answer on the jump.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Storify story: Author Buffy Andrews

Labor Day and the jobs I've had

I can’t believe it’s Labor Day. WOW! Where did the summer go? Isn’t it funny that when you were a child, time crawled like a newborn and you did all you could to push it along. 

As adults, the seconds chase minutes faster than a Triple Crown Winner and we scratch our heads as the months whip by.

I was thinking the other day of the jobs I’ve had over the years. I was:
  • A waitress
  • Clerk in a convenience store
  • Cashier in a donut shop
  • Worked through a temp agency doing whatever (filing, answering phones, etc.)
  • Newspaper stringer
  • Clerk in college campus library
  • Professional journalist

What about you? What jobs have you held? Do you have a favorite?