Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

May

12

2016

The Alice Curtis Desmond Award

Filed under: Author Events, Awards, Check-it-out, Community, Family, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children

Last Friday, May 6th 2016, was a magical night. It was so amazing, it’s taken me almost a week to digest it enough to be able to share it with you.

I finally became the official 2016 recipient of the Alice Curtis Desmond Award!

And if you remember me talking about it, I also was able to spend my evening in the company of two additional and very fabulous award winners…

Andy Chmar–The Patricia Adams Award

and

Salman Rushdie–The Hamilton Fish Award

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After an hour of mingling and a fund-raising auction for the the Desmond-Fish Library, I was able to take a few pictures of the venue. Only a few because I was going to be the first speaker of the evening. And I won’t lie, I was more than a bit nervous giving my first acceptance speech to 250 people, with one of them being the iconic Salman Rushdie.

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I arrived at my seat with my To Kill A Mockingbird Purse, perfect for the occasion, to find signed copies of two of Salman Rushdie’s books on my seat. <3

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Everyone filing into The Roundhouse Beacon. Hard to believe this gorgeously renovated place was an old, run down factory when I was a kid.

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Such a big crowd! I’ve never spoken in front of that many people before. *butterflies*

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Here’s my seat!! I won’t be able to eat a think until I’m done. So glad I was going first, because the food was amazing and I eventually did get to enjoy it.

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I don’t have pictures of me speaking–yet. My Mom was able to attend the event and took a few and there was a professional photographer at the event, so I’m hoping to be able to share a few more pictures at a later date. *fingers crossed*

Part of the awesomeness of the evening was having my extremely sweet husband introduce me and hand me my award. And while he may have interjected a small bit of teasing into his speech, he once again made me feel incredible. He’s not only my biggest fan when it comes to my writing, but he’s also makes me feel like an incredible human being. I felt so loved. I find myself thinking about his words every day. <3

Then, I not only survived my speech, but according to feedback–I nailed it! Which meant the hours I spent writing and practicing paid off. It also meant my insanely shaky hands and at one point, trembling body, didn’t effect my voice. *phew!*

And here was my reward…

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I MUST get this framed!

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And I was also presented with two of Alice Curtis Desmond’s books. I can’t wait to read them.

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Each book has this moving bookplate inside. Whenever I have one of those inevitable crappy moments as an author, I’m going to pull one of those books out and read…

To

Kimberly Sabatini

in recognition of her distinctive contribution

to Children’s Literature

And then I’ll get back to work.

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Here’s my only picture of Salman Rushdie as he was being interviewed by Hamilton Fish.

Mr. Rushdie was intelligent, funny, thoughtful and engaging. I could have listened to him all evening.

And the cherry on my sundae came later in the evening, when I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Rushdie after the presentation of his award. He spent several minutes asking me about my publisher, my writing and my book. It was a surreal experience I won’t ever forget.

 And if all of the above wasn’t humbling enough, I had the opportunity to look at the award winners who walked before me…

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I’ve had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of so many amazing writers who have come before me. Now my goal is to be worthy of boosting up those who will come after. It’s time to get back to work to ensure that the Alice Curtis Desmond Award is the first of many.

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Apr

7

2016

It’s Throwback Thursday Arizona Style

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Stuff I Love, Vacation Madness

It’s taken me a bit, but I finally got my spring break photos put together and some I set up for your Throwback Thursday #TBT pleasure. Enjoy the trip back in time…

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First stop Tucson for my birthday on…

you guessed it–3/19 LOL! This was a very perfect room number.

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And my post about it connected me with a friend from home in the same hotel.

(We never saw each other in person.)

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Then it was throwback time! With a visit to the University of Arizona. I had a wonderful time getting my Masters in Special Education while we were stationed in Arizona roughly 18 years ago.

University Blvd.

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Old Main

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The Education Building where I took all my classes.

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Stadium

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And here’s a blast from the past…

The “old folks” in the family (out for a visit) in front of Old Main.

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Heading to a Wild Cats football game.

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My graduation in 1998 and hanging with my favorite professor Dr. Lane.

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The next day we headed to Sierra Vista, where we lived while stationed in AZ. And we found our old apartment…

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The trees have definitely grown and the paint colors have changed.

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Ask my brother–we used to have a much more open view during our epic BBQ’s when he came out to visit. LOL!

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More of the present and past in Tombstone.

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It was a lot emptier when I came out with my mom. I wonder if that has anything to do with the movie Tombstone?

Doc Holiday is everyone’s Huckleberry now.

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Also made  a new and old visit to the Crystal Palace. This time with the boys but last time with high school buds.

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And things had changed inside the O.K Corral too.

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My first time around the shoot out reenactments occurred right on the spot where the shoot out happened. Now they have a model in the same place and the reenactment off to the side.

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Back in the late 90’s.

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Clearly the new models are having a bit of trouble. All of the figures have very interesting feet. The heat?

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We then headed to the eclectic and artsy mining town of Bisbee. We didn’t make it in time to take the Copper Queen mine tour, but we did get to check it out and of course I had stories.

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Not too much has changed.

Grandma and my Dad.

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Mom and I.

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Here’s a different Bisbee before and after shot.

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And the rest of the pics are some quirky, random shots…

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And this was our favorite restaurant and it was still there!!! Had a yummy dinner <3

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Bisbee at night.

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Speaking the truth…

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Off to Phoenix…

These two cuties were not the best of friends.

The Easter Bunny?

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A Gorgeous Harris Hawk named Hitman who worked on the Falcon Force Squad.

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After an afternoon of swimming. This was one of our quieter days. We drove 1,200 miles from the southern part of AZ to Las Vegas, Nevada in a week.

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Old Town Scottsdale

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And the next morning, we hiked up Camelback Mountain.

Gorgeous views the whole way up and down.

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Can you find the critter?

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Meeting the challenge the 10yo was issued by a friend LOL!

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We all made it to the top.

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And then it was off to Sedona with it’s red rocks and a Pink Jeep Tour…

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Our friendly and fun driver PJ!

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Heading back to Sedona…

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And here are my #TBT pics from my first time in Sedona…

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And the next day it was a road trip to the Grand Canyon!

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It was just as beautiful the second time around…

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The size just blows your mind.

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A last night in Sedona–one of my favorites <3 before heading out.

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A pit stop at an IN-N-OUT Burger. I’d never been before. Yum!

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And then it was the Hoover Dam, which I’d never been to either. It was a fascinating tour and an incredible architectural feat.

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Some of the turbines.

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Where the turbines are housed.

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The Colorado River

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My camera was looking down–not me!

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You can see how dry it is and how low the water is in Lake Mead. This is the emergency spillway. It’s only been used twice–once when they tested it and only one other time. Not a risk at the moment.

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And last but not least we made it to Vegas!

And you know what they say…what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. No, really I mean it. Imagine running into your 10yo’s best friend and his brother at the pool in Vegas. We knew they were traveling in some of the same places we were over the break, but we didn’t know their schedule at all and they could have been anywhere in those 1,200 miles. Unbelievably we randomly bumped into each other at the pool!

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And a pit stop at the Stratosphere was on the agenda after a fun time here 18 years ago…

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Back in the late 1990’s

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He ate the WHOLE thing folks!

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See–what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. LOL!

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And some Vegas random. Very cool glass gallery.

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Kind of think I should own these chairs of birdie awesome.

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And after a night of David Copperfield and his magical illusions,it seemed like this New York, New York…

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was destined to turn back into this one…

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If you could do a Throw Back #TBT tour of a place you used to live or spend a lot of time, where would you go and what would you want to see while you were there???

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Apr

5

2016

Vacation From Vacation

Filed under: Family, Pondering, Vacation Madness

This isn’t my first post-vacation blog, but last week’s blogs were planned and in place before spring break. This is the blog that reminds me that I haven’t caught up from being away. It’s the realization that I could easily use a vacation from vacation.

As I’m sitting here I realized I still have piles of laundry to do, one stubborn suitcase to put away, running to help balance out the gluttony of vacation of and lots of writing to catch up on–just for starters. And although the weather isn’t cooperating at the moment, spring sports have started that means I am back to being a boy juggling taxi driver.

But, do you know what? Maybe I don’t really need a vacation from vacation. Maybe I just need to chill. In fact, now that I think about it, vacation was so awesome it would be a shame to stress about stupid stuff. Instead of harping on needing a vacation from vacation, I’m simply going to go with the flow and see how I’m doing on Thursday.

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Walk away from the madness…

What’s the hardest part of coming back from your vacations? If you could do one thing to stop stressing and chill, what would it be? If you could have a vacation from vacation, what would you be doing?

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Mar

17

2016

Taking a Spring Blogcation

Filed under: Family, Fun and Games, Vacation Madness

Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be taking a Spring Blogcation next week.

It’s #vacationmadness time!!!

I’ll be out and about, doing exciting family stuff, so I’ll be taking the week off.

No blogging on Tuesday 3/22 and Thursday 3/24.

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But I promise to fill you in on my adventures when my Spring Blogcation is over and the kids are back at school. Perhaps I’ll be a  slight bit sane by then–then again–maybe not.

Do you have any fabulous plans for spring break? What’s the best spring break you’ve ever had? I welcome spring break horror stories also–as long as you don’t jinx me LOL!

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Feb

9

2016

Freaky Friday Daddy Party Weekend Plus

Filed under: Conferences, Family, Freaky Friday, Pondering, SCBWI

It’s almost that time of year again…

The kids have been sick for weeks and the dog has wanted me to throw the ball one too many times. The laundry has piled up to the rafters and the pizza take-out place knows MY VOICE over the phone. “Hey, Kim!”

And for my hubby, it’s the season where traveling has become monotonous, the boys are begging to do manly things with their Dad and the dog wants to lick the hell out of him. They all need to dog pile while eating all the things I never allow as they watch movies I wouldn’t permit.

It’s been a long winter and we both need a change, so in a couple days, it’s the bi-annual Freaky Friday event where we trade places. It’s the hard core kick off to my weekend at the NY SCBWI Conference.

Now, I say change places very loosely because I’m well aware that getting on a train before sunrise one or two days a year doesn’t make me an actual commuter. But it certainly does make me appreciate how hard it is to do it every day–especially when he’s often home very late at night. The truth is I would rather eat frog poo on a tortilla chip than do his job and I haven’t even gotten to the actual job yet. Sadly, I’m ready to quit, just staring into the face of mass transportation. *sigh* Thanks for all you do, husband. I really appreciate you and don’t want your job. <3

But, I’m pretty certain, after what we affectionately call…DADDY PARTY WEEKEND!!!!…he’ll need at least six months before he can face another Freaky Friday too, even though I hook him up…

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I’ve already got a detailed cheat sheet tacked to the kitchen cabinets listing dog feeding directions, medication schedules, school drop off and pick-up times, the middle school dance, the basketball game and more. He’s already said he won’t read it, but if he doesn’t, he’ll miss out on the cute notes with the hearts and he’ll probably lose a kid or poison the dog. LOL! At least I’d like to think that’s what would happen if I didn’t give him at least a little bit of help with my very tough job. :o)

In the past, Daddy Party Weekend has always ended with both of us exhausted on the couch, excited to catch up and also get back to reality the next day. But this year there’s a little twist. Sunday is Valentine’s Day and the kids are off on Monday. So, the hubby is dropping those little turkeys off at Grandma’s house and meeting me in the city for dinner and a show.

I have a feeling, when we get back on Monday, Grandma will be the one exhausted on the couch, excited to give those kids back…

How do you and your significant other remember to appreciate what it feels like to walk in their shoes? Any fabulous plans for Valentine’s Day? What does your significant other do with the kids (that makes you cringe) when they are large and in charge without you?

 

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Jan

28

2016

The Universe’s Librarian

Filed under: Audiobooks, Family, Pondering, Reading, Stuff I Love

Over and over again, I’ve had the strange and slightly mystical situation of having books show up in my life–demanding I read them. When this phenomenon happens, it always makes me feel as if the Head Librarian of the Library of the Universe has a book recommendation for me.

It always starts off with the book I need to read, catching my eye in a very subtle way. Then, with increasing frequency, I’ll begin to hear people talking about or I’ll keep bumping into blog posts or reviews or social media posts referencing said book. If I continue to be dense about picking the book up, I’ll find that it continues to keep popping up in front of me in different locations. I’ll see it on a shelf, I’ll notice someone reading it or it will stare back at me from a magazine I’m reading.

Sometimes, I’ll go so far as to be compelled to pick up the book and flip to the cover flap, and yet I still won’t understand why I’m supposed to read THAT book. I must drive the Universe’s Head Librarian bat shit crazy sometimes.

It seems accurate that I always picture the Head Librarian at the Library of the Universe as Yvonne Craig in the roll of Bat Girl. It’s hard enough to be a Librarian at a book and mortar building and get people to read. Imagine being an unexplainable force of book nature. The Universe’s Librarian must be a little bit of a super hero to help the people who rationalize everything, understand that what we need shows up. And sometimes it’s a book.

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One of the most memorable examples of Bat Girl, on her motorcycle, doing a high speed chase after me with a book in hand was with Malcolm Galdwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.

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This book was IN MY FACE. I saw it in magazines. I saw it on bookshelves. I couldn’t turn around without bumping into this book. From time to time I’d pick it up and contemplate it. I’d let my fingers run over the description before deciding that even though I’d read a couple of Gladwell’s books and was fascinated by them, I wasn’t ready to pick this one up at the moment. The wording didn’t overly resonate with me

In his #1 bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the ways we understand and change our world. Now he looks at the complex and surprising ways the weak can defeat the strong, the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally determined) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success. Drawing upon examples from the world of business, sports, culture, cutting-edge psychology, and an array of unforgettable characters around the world, David and Goliath is in many ways the most practical and provocative book Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.

I wasn’t going to read it. At least not now. I convinced myself the book was showing up everywhere because Mr. Gladwell had some mighty fine marketing people. I thought it was a coincidence that this book kept stepping in front of my face. I was so naive.

I can remember the moment that book won the battle and I made the decision to read it. I sometimes wonder if maybe I subconsciously agreed to read it, in order to shut the Universe’s Librarian up. Either way, I was in my local airport and attempting to grab snacks for a family journey. As I stepped off the escalator and walked to the shop–there is was–directly in front of me. AGAIN. I picked up the book one more time and then sat it back down, telling the universe that it could relax because I was going to purchase it as an audiobook–ASAP.

And I did. And a couple chapters in, a lightbulb went off in my head. THIS book was filled with profound thoughts on dyslexia. That book that I didn’t think I would connect with, moved me, supported my instinctual thoughts, it enlightened me, it gave me a dialogue to share with my husband and my dyslexic kids and it added to a spark that had been growing inside me in regards to a manuscript that was forming. I needed that book. I love that book. And I reread it often, because it unfolds for me differently every time I return to it.

Thank you Bat Girl–for not giving up on me so easily. But because of the memorable persistence of that particular book, I have never taken the all knowing Librarian’s book recommendations so lightly again. You don’t have to hit me with a Bat-a-rang over and over again…forever. Now I listen closer and watch more carefully.

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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t have to work quite as hard to get me to pay attention. The Gift of Big Magic.

And most recently, When Breath Becomes Air, found me. I saw the cover on iTunes and without reading about it, I acknowledged that the title and the cover spoke to me, but I was in a rush and I’d have to check it out later. Then I opened a magazine and there it was. Immediately I understood it was for me and I had to know what it was about.

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For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

I dropped everything and bought it on the spot. I’m reading it now. If you aren’t aware, my lovely mother-in-law was just diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. So, today I wanted to acknowledge the Universe’s Librarian for always having my back. I appreciate you.

What books has the Universe’s Librarian persuaded you to check out and read?

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Jan

26

2016

Draftvision

Filed under: #lifeofriley, Chasing Adaptation, Check-it-out, Critique, Drafting, Family, In the Wild, Pondering, Revision, Writing, Writing Style

On mornings when I’m not running or running errands, after I get the boys all off to school, I look forward to plowing through my emails and knocking out a blog post so I can spend the lion’s share of the day working on my WIP. Doesn’t that sound delightful? Yeah, yeah–I know it’s not that easy. After all it is Monday (I wrote this yesterday) and every person in the house managed to drag a laundry basket upstairs in retaliation for my subversive parenting techniques…no one eats chips or watches football until their clothes are put away, their rooms are clean and their bathroom isn’t gross. So, now I have chores to do in-between my projects. But that’s not my only problem, there is also this guy…

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By rights, he should be in a snow coma at the moment. He’s been outside non-stop for two days playing in the snow with the kids or by himself if every other human was exhausted. I figured by today, his get-up-and-go would most likely be his got-up-and-went and he’d pass out quietly in the corner, providing me with a quiet writing day.

No such luck.

Why doesn’t the dog understand that I NEED this writing day!!!!  I’ve been a bad, bad writer and I’m in the middle of DRAFTVISION????

Wait, you don’t know what draftvision is? You do–your just blocking it out. It’s when you’ve drafted 75% of a manuscript and because you’ve struggled with some aspect of plowing forward to the end of the draft, you’ve started to revise the front end while still drafting the back end. Draftvision. It can be a cold mess. Ugly on the scale of the 2016 Blizzard Jonas.

I do have good news. Besides the fact that Jonas only dumped a mild 10 inches in my yard. (Thank you mother nature for the pass) I’m very pleased to announce that I’m no longer stuck on my work in progress, spinning my wheels on the big expanse of white page. I know what to write to get out of draftvision. But here’s the thing, even when you’ve finally been able to plot your escape–you’ve still got to shovel yourself out of that shit. There ain’t nobody coming along with a word plow who’s going to do it for you. Which ultimately leaves you with lots of work to do on your WIP, plus a blog post and mountains of laundry to climb and whether you want to be or not, you ARE outside with the frisky snow pup who just wants to play ball.

My compromise is to brainstorm my blog post while running the dog silly. Sometimes this means “mind-writing” a topic I’ve already been thinking about. And other times, like today, it means I’m hoping to be struck by inspiration while I’m hanging out in the good old outdoors.

Today my connections started firing when I tossed that first neon orange tennis ball across the field and into ten inches of snow. I hadn’t really thought it through. White snow. Orange ball. This was going to be easy. That’s what I thought until this happened…

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Gone. I hadn’t expected snowball hide and seek. And it quickly became apparent (to me at least) that playing ball in the deep snow was a lot like struggling through draftvision. One minute your tossing your best stuff into the air and the next minute–BOOM! Ball is gone and you can’t find it anywhere. But you don’t panic because the snow is pretty pristine and there is a ball shaped space letting you know where to start digging to fix the problem.

But the dog isn’t close to being done yet and you realize you are still playing ball in the snow and the more you play, the more foot prints, dog paws and old ball holes there are lying around. Take your eye off that ball for a minute and you suddenly have to change your strategy for finding what you need. Now you have to begin looking for new clues to solve your problems. But eureka!  You realize that as the snow packs down, initially it’s harder to see where the ball went, but now it’s easier to search by color. You wander around until you spot what you need to throw the next ball.

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But now your sweating. Deep snow is tiring to trod through and the whole yard is starting to look a bit off. It’s just when you’re on the edge of leaving that ball out there until the spring thaw that you have to dig deep. You must get in there and start poking around until you find what you need. You do not have time to let that manuscript sit for a few months and lose momentum. Start moving stuff around until you make some progress. If you stumble around long enough (trust me–i know) you’ll eventually find something you can toss around, under all that mess.

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And incidentally, as if finding these disappearing balls isn’t hard enough, you should also know that the balls you’re throwing  aren’t traveling as far as they usually do. I’ve never been a major league pitcher, but momentum has always been my friend. I’ve relied on a little bounce, bump and roll to get some distance. But in draftvision, that ball stops where it lands, without getting a lot of milage or tiring out the dog and now you still have to go find it. Grrrr. After awhile, you may realize that even though you’re trying very hard, nothing seems to be working. In this case, you just might want a little help.

You NEED a critique or two to help you sort out what you’ve got going on. Sometimes that critiquer will tell you things you didn’t know, which is pretty freaking fabulous. Yay for new insights that solve old problems. But usually, the critiquer will do the same thing you are doing and tell you what you already know. Yup–it works like that sometimes. Believe it or not, you’re smarter than you know. But even though you’re a bright light, the black hole of draftvision has sucked the illumination out of your life. There’s no shame in it, some times it helps to have someone else flip your switch. It can help to see your process laid out from a different perspective…

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Oh, that’s how you do it????

See–it isn’t magic. Do the work and you end up with a cold, orange ball at the end or a finished manuscript–whatever you prefer. Either way, you too, can get everything you’ve ever wanted. Be persistent. Believe in your story. Be willing to try different approaches as the rules for what your throwing on the page keep changing.

And so you’re aware (because tough things exist even if we don’t acknowledge them) none of this process guarantees you anything, other than the completion of your art to your satisfaction. No matter how hard you work at writing or how diligently you learn your craft–publishing is a wild card. No one can predict it. You can work hard to stack the odds in your favor like an arsenal of snow encrusted tennis balls and that’s a great thing to have in the fight to get published. But it’s important that your goal is always to write the best book you can write, regardless of where that takes you.

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And there’s  another important reason to have your own measuring stick for your work. Sometimes we do not know when draftvision turns to revision, which then turns into TOO MUCH revision. It can be a slippery, ice encrusted, slope and once we are on it, we start moving ass-fast downhill and don’t know how to stop sliding and get off.

At the end of my blog post plotting, I pocketed both bright orange balls for another day, trading them for a large stick that I tossed up into the woods. Somewhere between the toss and the run to find said stick, the pup forgot what he was looking for and spent the next umpteen minutes looking for his ball in every conceivable place. He was completely unaware that the orange ball part of his story was already over.

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It’s important to know that all good games of fetch and stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Looking back I’ve realized that sometimes draftvision is completely unavoidable–like snow. It’s one of mother natures challenges. But when we find ourselves walloped by the blizzard of draftvision, it’s great to have some tactics to help you shovel out of there as quickly as possible…

  1. Look carefully at what you already have for the clues you need to move forward.
  2. Be tolerant of where you are in your writing and forgiving of how you got there.
  3. Then be positive about where you are going.
  4. Don’t be afraid to go digging, no matter how big of a mess it makes–journeys are important.
  5. Keep your eye on the ball. But if you lose track of it, don’t be afraid to ask someone else to help you. Perspective is key.
  6. Know the real reason you are playing ball in the first place. Understand what is in your control and what is out of your control.
  7. Don’t keep playing when the game is clearly over. There is a time to stop or you end up chasing the wrong things. Send that work out when it feels done, not when you think it’s perfect. There is no such dog.
  8. Drink hot chocolate–it makes everything better.

Have you spent time in DRAFTVISION before? What are your tips for getting out? Do you have a dog that makes you throw balls in the snow? What other pets mess with your writing time? Aren’t you glad dogs don’t wear clothes and don’t add to the laundry pile?

Hang in there and keep tossing balls in the snow and words on the page.

 

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Jan

21

2016

Her Door Was Open for Thirty-Three Years

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Family, Pondering, Stuff I Love

Last night, after thirty-three years of service as a secretary in the school district I grew up in, my mother-in-law Joanne had her retirement party. After the facility ran out of parking spots, a parade of people who love and respect her got up to speak. But there was one young woman who made my heart catch in my throat. She stood up and talked about being a high school student who once did student filing in Joanne’s office. She choked up as she talked about how it had been a safe place for her–because surviving lunch was hard. She talked about how much it saved her to be in that office with my mother-in-law. She then went on speak about how, as an adult working in the same school with her now, Joanne has continued to be a bright spot and a safe place in her life.

Over all these years she was someone who mattered and had a big influence on her life.

Long before I married or even dated my husband, back when I was in Joanne’s high school, I watched with my own eyes as so many students found their way through her door and discovered what they needed. I know there were countless stories like the one above. I watched–I witnessed. When I think of the importance of what she did and who she was, I am reminded that we do not always know our own impact until a later hour in our lives. We do not always understand how important it is to open our door to others.

To my lovely mother-in-law…thank you.

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Jan

1

2016

A Dad Shaped Space

Filed under: Family, Pondering, Stuff I Love

An interesting thing happened last night, although I guess it was technically this morning. Either way, every year for the previous 10 New Year’s Eves, I found myself staying up past the midnight drop of the Time’s Square ball, where I’d normally sit alone in the quiet of the house after everyone else had fallen asleep. I’d breath deeply and write a blog post about my Dad. The post usually carried me to the 2:00 am mark, the time when he passed away. This year–year eleven–I didn’t do it. It wasn’t that I forgot, possibilities for the post flitted across my mind at odd times throughout the day. But I also didn’t hem and haw over the last minute decision to quietly close my lap top as I walked by to go to bed. I let the post slip through my fingers like dry grains of sand and it felt like the right thing to do.

It’s not that I miss him less now that over a decade has gone by. I’ll never stop missing him. But I think that after eleven years, I don’t need the same things I used to in order to navigate the Dad shaped space he left behind.

For a long time I had to tip-toe around the new version of my life. I was careful because I didn’t want to fall into the black hole he’d left behind. It was a lot like the first night you move into a brand new house. When you wake up from a deep sleep and try to make it to the bathroom, you don’t know where you are or how you got there. And you certainly don’t want to make a move without enough light to navigate by. But you eventually find your way.

 

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Now, after eleven years, I don’t even need a night light. I know my way. Even with my eyes closed, I can navigate around the Dad shaped space. But even so, sometimes I still look to the light…

 

 

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Sep

29

2015

In JK Rowling’s Imagination

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, Stuff I Love, Vacation Madness, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

This past week, my husband and kids spent two days laughing at me. Or rather, my childish delight at being in Universal’s Harry Potter Theme Park of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and Gringotts. But they were pretty blown away by the awesomeness of the experience too.

We’re all HP fans. <3

But the thing that stuck with me the most was my husband wandering around, continually repeating how amazing it was to get to walk around in someone else’s imagination.

I can’t possibly agree more.

I wish you’d all been there with me too. Maybe we can have an SCBWI event there sometime, right??

But in the meantime, here’s a picture tour of JK Rowling’s imagination come to life…

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The Hogwarts Express

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Hogsmeade at night

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Hogwarts!!!!

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Butterbeer

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Honey Dukes for Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans

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The Sorting Hat

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Olivander’s Wand Shop…where the wand picks the Wizard.


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Then…

I unexpectedly rounded a corner into Diagon Alley. My 12yo is still laughing about the squeal he heard me make before he got inside. <3

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The Weasley Twin’s joke shop–Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes

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And a fire breathing dragon atop of Gringotts

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I applied for an account!

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More butterbeer–because I could!

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Even the toilets were just right!

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There was also the Leaky Caldron

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And Flourish & Blotts for school books too.

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And there was so much more…

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It’s a tiny picture , but it’s all I could upload with a panoramic.

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And don’t forget the Knight Bus…

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For getting around on the Muggle streets of London LOL!

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And King’s Cross Station–Next time I’m going to get to go in. Platform 9 and 3/4 is on my HP Bucket list. <3

Ahhh I miss it already. I can’t wait to go back. What about you?

Have you been inside JK Rowling’s imagination? What was your favorite part? Are you planning to go? What is on top of your HP Bucket List?

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