Archive for the ‘Pondering’ Category

Feb

18

2017

NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Part 2

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Pondering, Publishing, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style

I’m back for Part 2 of my NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Recap!!!

And like these two guys, I’m a bit confused…

(Scott Hammon and Justin Brancato)

I can’t remember exactly when, during the conference a few of these pictures happened.

So–I’m gonna go with it and just kick off with them.

This is just a shot giving you an idea of how big the conference tribe is.

Some of our SCBWI Faculty getting ready to go on stage and take a bow!

And over in the corner was all our fabulous RA’s who volunteer their time and experience. <3

We love you RA’s!!! How did I not get my conference picture with my RA Nancy Castaldo?

And then it was officially the Sunday Morning Conference Kick-off…

I love the awards!!!

Student Illustrators

Art Portfolio Honors

Art Portfolio Winner

Then we had the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grants for talented Mid-List authors who have stalled in their publishing career. This is to remind them of their talent and how much we all still believe in them.

Only one of our Mid-List Author Grant Winners was in attendance. I think the weather kept many people from making it. But you can see what this kind of recognition from your peers can mean. <3

We were all choked up.

Next up was the Tomie dePaola Award for Illustrators. I’ve been watching talented artists receive this award since I’ve been coming to the NY SCBWI Conference and I was shocked to learn this was going to be the last time it’s given.

Moving forward, it will now become the Narrative Arts Award and it will still have “Assignments” <3

So, for this year’s winners–it must be extra special.

And there was another big announcement. On the horizon, the SCBWI will be doing a new project called BOOKS FOR READERS.

Two times a year, the tribe will come together to bring books to readers in need. The room was energized at the idea and now we are all waiting to hear more about the new project.

And then it was time to get down to the business of the day–The Current Landscape of Children’s Books

Moderator–LO–Lin Oliver

KG–Ken Geist (VP, Publisher, Orchard Books, Scholastic Press Picture Books, Cartwheel Books, Readers, Branches and Little Shepherd)

AH–Andrew Harwell (Senior Editor, Harper Collins)

CH–Carrie Howland (Senior agent, Empire Literary)

EK–Eileen Kreit (Vice President and Publisher, Puffin/Penguin Young Readers Group)

EN–Edward Nescarsulmer IV (Agent, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency)

Here’s the highlights…

AH–Yes, literally everything about children’s books is more important than ever.

EK–Pointed out the changes (cuts) occurring related to the NY Times Best Seller List are due to relocated resources needed to meet the current demand for political news. (I guess the politicians are getting us coming and going.)

KG–Authenticity matters. You can’t lift a flap on an ebook. Picture Books are here to stay.

AH–MG and YA readers are already discerning. Many of 2016’s award winners were already becoming best sellers before their win.

EN–Your brand is your name connected with excellence.

KG–Ha! We “actually” have a wrestling mat in Acquisitions. (On fighting for books you love)

EN–Mergers in publishing have happened for a reason–Penguin/Random–they were digging in. They were announcing to everyone–“we are here to stay.”

And, much to my delight, I found a friend of friend in the audience while waiting

for my next breakout session to start. His name is Hamlet <3

Next up was a Sunday Workshop–this was something we hadn’t done before and I really enjoyed having another fabulous break out session added to the conference.

This session was two pronged and packed in a HUGE amount of intense information.

Writing Within and Across Identity Elements with Cynthia Leitich Smith

AND

How to Write About Difficult Subjects with Ellen Hopkins

Can brought her information at a fast and furious pace in order to give us as much knowledge as she could in a short time. Here are some of the things I was able to capture…

Cynthia:

*51% of children today are people of color.

*We are all related.

*When writing, non-human characters are sometimes the ultimate diversity.

*Everything you write will be criticized. Be diligent–be brave.

*Books that feature diverse characters are not there just for a specific type of reader. And the diversity is not there just to teach you something.

Then Ellen mesmerized the audience with her personal stories, letters from readers and samples of her own writing…

Ellen:

*These are the kids we don’t wan to believe exist, but it’s true.

*Never self-censor–tell what needs to be told.

*Be TRUE TO CHARACTER!

Sara and I signed in at the front desk right after the UPS delivery LOL!

And for the last Keynote of the conference we were privileged to hear from Sara Pennypacker. And I was even luckier than most, because Sara made a stop at my boy’s school before the conference and I got to see her in action during a school visit and got some quality time to hang out with her and my friend and Pop-up Engineer Courtney McCarthy who was the book fairy for all the magic that happened for Book Fair an Drop Everything and Read Week.

I wrote like a fiend, trying to capture the best of Sara–here it is…

*We are all doing the same thing–in our own way we are trying to make order out of chaos.

*People who are passionate about what they do (in any area of life) never fail to inspire me. Surround yourself with people who walk with light instead of darkness.

*Write a HELL, YES manuscript–one that makes the agent, editor, publisher and reader say HELL, YES–I must have this!

*Creation is a river and rivers become stagnant if blocked. The best thing a river does is flow. We are all part of the river.

*Story illuminates in a way facts never can.

*Children are the best audience–children are free of adult boundary issues.

*Kids build bonds through characters they love. If an author loves a character. And a kid loves a character. Then ergo–the kid loves the author. This is why Ellen Hopkins stays in the parking lot for 2 hours after school visits because those teens know she doesn’t judge her characters–that she loves them–meaning they can trust her because they will be safe with her. They find her in the parking lot. <3

*Writing Tip–leave room for the reader. Don’t do it all yourself, it’s not a monologue.

*Writing Tip–The story is the boss.

*It’s not about me–story serves the reader.

*No proselytizing!

     -Say it with Sara…”If I were God’s own spiritual advisor–I would understand it’s not my job to preach.”

     -Authors are not parents.

     -Our job is to allow children to safely experience things we don’t actually want them to experience.

*Kids need to hear stories.

*Sometimes the problem exposes the wound that is REALLY the problem.

*Story is a template for kids.

*Children need to tell their stories.

     -“There is an evil in the world because people aren’t allowed to tell their stories.” Carl Jung

     -I write for children because they can’t write their own stories for themselves. Now I write to give the child a template to use to say…THIS is my story.

     -All those people who allow children to to tell their stories may never know what a great and impactful thing they have done. (Thank you librarians and teachers and those who encourage voice)

*Join the SCBWI and then go out and persist!

*Go out and subtract a measurable amount of evil in the world. <3

And get your books signed by the authors and illustrators who have spent the conference teaching you and inspiring you…

Illustrator, Brian Floca and MOONSHOT

Love his art work in this book!

Totally, NOT BORED hanging out with my bud Debbie Ohi <3

Me and Sonya Sones

Signing for the readers at GUFS

The fierce and fabulous Ellen Hopkins!!!!

Lin Oliver

And Tomie DePaolo…an incredible picture book team

And as we were leaving the autograph room one of my friends pointed to the floor and said…

“this is where the magic happens.”

And my response was…

“then let’s be where the magic happens.” <3

Never be afraid to put yourself where the magic happens.

And that doesn’t change when the conference is over and you head back home…

Remember there will be snow on your windshield and a million other things that would like to keep you from your work.

But don’t let it stop you.

Every conference I attend, I realize that a word or a theme usually floats to the top of my conscious and reminds me what I need to know about myself, my writing and my process.

My take away from New York is PURPOSE AND PERSISTENCE!

I have a purpose in this writing world and I must work to fulfill that.

I believe that the myriad of obstacles that have been put in my path are not there to dissuade me from my work, but have rather been designed to ensure I do my BEST work.

I know I might never reach my own excellence if the world accepts my mediocrity.

This means my challenges are my gifts.

I believe I have a purpose and I will persist and my world will be a better place because of it.

In the comments, feel free to share your own writing manifesto.

Remember–your words have power and magic happened when you put them into the world.

And if you are able–come and join me in LA in July. There can never be too many Lobby Rats at a conference. <3

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Feb

14

2017

NY 2017 SCBWI Conference Part 1

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Conferences, Fun and Games, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Middle Grade, Pondering, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing for Children

It’s time for the NY 2017 SCBWI Conference!!!!

I just got back and of course I wanted to share the awesomeness with you.

Just so you know, it wasn’t exactly easy to get there this year…

On Thursday we got hit with a winter storm. My house got just over 10 inches of snow–resulting in a very happy puppy.

With a day off of school, I was kind of lucky because I got some extra sleep and had plenty of time to pack for the next day.

But not everyone was so lucky. I know of several people who couldn’t get their flights sorted out and missed the conference all together. That was a huge disappointment.

I knew I was going to be running a little late for Friday’s Intensive, but my train schedule got pushed back even more due to the boys having 2hr delays. I decided not to stress and go with the flow.

Chilling out and day dreaming while looking out the train widow really paid off. I got to see 4 adult and 4 juvenile American Eagles! And I even captured one on my camera and that made me extra happy.

While I missed most of the morning portion of my Friday Intensive–WRITING THE VERSE NOVEL–but made it for the first half of the round table sessions. Despite being late, I still had an amazing experience and learned a ton. I’ve never attempted a novel in verse before, but I’m intrigued, I enjoy reading them and I always feel that learning new things brings depth and color to anything I’m working on. So it was a great opportunity. And the good news was that I was able to get the handouts and I have access to the notes.

The lovely Bonnie Bader facilitated the Intensive.

Listening to Sonya SonesThe Nuts and Bolts and Safety Pins of Writing the Novel in Verse

*Don’t write a poem that makes a teenager feel stupid. It must be accessible.

*Our goal is to move people with our words–create an emotional response.

*Teens are present tense human beings.

*Read your work out loud with ear plugs. It allows you to hear your own voice.

We also did some fun exercises with Ellen Hopkins‘ session Balancing Verse with Story

Do you want to get your creative descriptions flowing? Try asking yourself some interesting questions like…

What does anger smell like?

What does happiness taste like?

What does sorrow sound like?

What does boredom feel like?

What does love look like?

You should have heard all the interesting and varying responses in the room.

And after another session of round tables, there was even time for a Q & A session with the intensive faculty.

(Sonya Sones, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden)

Done for the day, it was time to meet up with my friends (old and new) and fellow Lobby Rats for a yummy Italian dinner and lots of catching up in the–you guessed it–lobby!

Then on Saturday morning–despite how comfortable my roomie and best bud, Jodi Moore and I were in our cozy beds at the Hyatt Grand–we rolled on downstairs for coffee, bagels and the kick-off of the conference.

Starting off the day was some birthday singing for the one and only Jane Yolen!

This was followed by Lin Oliver‘s famous SCBWI State of the Conference Address.

Here’s how it all went down…

*1,121 Attendees

*40% Published and 60% Pre-Published

*States not representing? North Dakota and Wyoming 🙁

*Attendees came from 61 different countries to include Hong Kong, Australia, Spain and Egypt.

*Some of this year’s interesting Professions/Day Jobs were…

     -Costume Shop Supervisor

     -Attorney/Voice Over Actor

     -Chairman of the Book Selection Committee (everyone was looking for this person LOL!)

     -Crime Scene Detective

     -Dog Groomer

     -Podiatrist

The first Keynote of the day was the always moving and inspiring Bryan Collier

Here are some of the things you should know…

*When he was 4yo–he saw HIMSELF in the picture book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. He became obsessed with art and headed to NY–there was no plan B

*Be careful who you share your dreams with, even the people who love you will tell you to get a job.

*Your dreams should be so outrageous they scare you.

*Everything your awkward about is the very thing that makes you special. <3

*Creativity is not just a pond–it’s a river. We are moving!

*The world is waiting for you to dream.

*Sometimes our readers aren’t standing in the doorway. They are in a ditch–behind bars. And they are waiting for you.

Want to check out some of Bryan’s amazing work? Look for his illustrations in KNOCK KNOCK.

Next up was a Panel Discussion–Four Types of Picture Books: A Closer Look

Moderator LL-Laurent Linn

DS–Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)

GP–Greg Pizzoli (Author/ Illustrator)

ADP–Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author/Editor)

AB–Andrea Beaty (Author)

There was so much great information offered by this panel, so I’ve picked my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration to share with you…

ADP–Bringing non-fiction to readers is like spinach. You have to keep serving it up until they get a taste for it.

ADP–I’m under the belief that if something excites you–it can excite the child.

DS–Don’t be afraid to draw ANYTHING–you’re in a constant state of getting better.

GP–Picture book advice 1. a picture book can be anything 2. it should be direct 3. keep it short.

LL–Ballet look so easy. Effortless. But those ballerina’s have bloody stumps for feet. Rhyme has to look equally effortless.

Next up was my first Break Out Session–World Building with Arianne Lewin

This was a fabulous workshop and very relevant to what I’m working on in my WIP. Here’s what you need to know…

*Creating a world that’s immersive will keep the reader reading.

*The world should unfold organically.

*World building applies to ALL books–it’s the anchor for your story.

*The world has to be believable and manageable.

*1st build atmosphere–it make the reader feel comfortable slipping in.

*If the character believes it–the reader will believe it. It’s in the details.

*Great examples of world building–The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass.

*The world is revealed by what your character does–show it!

The Lobby Rats taking a lunch break

One for me and one for my roomie <3

Then it’s back to work…

After lunch it was back to another breakout session.

This one was Writing Middle Grade Fiction with Andrew Harwell, Senior Editor at Harper Collins

*MG readers ages 8-12 (grades 2-6)

*This means that the middle grade section in bookstores houses a WIDE variety of books in one area–Captain Underpants to The Golden Compass.

*MG readers are extremely sophisticated–but keep your eye on the main character–that is the story anchor.

*Never talk down to your readers.

*There is no one, right gold standard voice or style in MG. Do what works for you and your character.

*Plant seeds –details in the earlier part of your book that you can catch again at the end.

*If you have the details clear in YOUR head, you don’t have to over explain anything to the reader. It will make sense. Make your plotting masterfully done.

*Make sure you give your characters a breathing moment–hit different emotional registers.

*The specific details are anchored in the universal themes.

*Be prepared to use sensitivity readers.

The afternoon keynote by Tahereh Mafi is STILL giving me goose bumps.

Everything about this keynote was incredible. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t capture it all. It was her words, which flowed non-stop. It was her elegant demeanor. It was her power and resilience. It was her history and her goals for the future. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak–know you are in for an altering experience.

This is what I was able to capture…

*A thick skin will only insulate you from pain, and act good is a writer who doesn’t feel anything?

*Speaking of her mom, who had her skull fractured on the streets of Iran: grief was a luxury she was never able to afford.

*My thin skin helps me to exhale emotions onto the page.

*Those rejections keep you hungry.

*Not everyone will know our stories and back stories–our inspirations and aspirations–but SOMEONE will find it.

*Lean into your pain and let it shape you.

*If you don’t give up, you can’t fail.

*She wrote and queried FIVE novels before the one that sold.

This year, the walls between the ballroom and the bookstore were opened. I loved it! This is everyone rushing to get Tahereh’s book after her moving keynote.

Next up was the afternoon panel–Children’s Books and the Social Media World: A Panel of Influencers

Moderator by Martha Brockenbrough MB

TJ–Travis Jonker (blogger) @100scopenotes and @TheYarnPodcast

CLS–Cynthia Leitich Smith (author/blogger) @CynLeitichSmith and  www.cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com

MW–Mathew Winner (librarian/podcast host/blogger) @MatthewWinner and @AlltheWonders

Here’s a sample of what we got to hear…

TJ–I love when a voice we love in a book carries over into the authors social media.

CLS–Calls out Debbie Ohi as someone who is doing it RIGHT! She has take aways for her audience, snippets of her art, a positive and friendly attitude.

CLS–Write your mission statement as an author.

CLS–Know when to step away from social media and write your book.

CLS–Author profiles with animals–especially quirky animals get more love.

Worth a try, right?

MW–I never set out to have an audience. I set out to share what I love.

MW–Being nice makes you cool!

Usually book signings are on Sunday, but every once in awhile we have a couple people who need to sign on Saturday.

My roomie, Jodi Moore talking to Andrea Davis Pinkney!!!! She was the sweetest to cast with and I’m constantly blown away by what an intelligent woman Andrea is. You must read her work–it’s incredible. I fell in love with this picture book and got a signed copy for my school library…

A Poem For Peter

And I also got to speak with Tahereh Mafi and tell her what an impact her keynote had on me. <3

And then it was time for the Gala with it’s the SCBWI MASHED POTATO BAR!!!

As if it was meant to be–I walked by and they opened this particular Mashed Potato Bar and I was the first one to use it ROTFL!


Cheers!

Hope you enjoyed my NY 2017 SCBWI Part 1 Recap. I’ll be sure to get you Part 2 as soon as I can.

Any questions about the conference? I’ll do what I can to answer them. Planning on going to the LA conference in July and want to be in the Lobby Rat know? Let me know and I’ll add you to the FB group. Or if you’re planning to attend a different SCBWI conference and would like to make sure the Lobby Rats are represented–let me know. We can arrange that <3

And if you want to play along in the comments and give Ellen Hopkins’ exercise a try, here’s your question…

What color was the NY conference and why?

You can answer this as an attendee or as an arm chair conference follower.

My conference was green like a leafy vine, because many of the ideas that were floating around in my head, were finally able to be connected because of what I learned and the people who were inspired me.

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Nov

23

2016

YOUR Work, YOUR Way

Filed under: Community, Pondering

Sometimes we forget it’s okay to do YOUR work, YOUR way.

A young boy and girl dressed as a superheroes stands on a rock with arms raised while on a California Beach. The surf and waves wash the sand around them and they are ready to work as a team to accomplish great things as they look out to sea. Image taken in Orange County, California, USA.

Everywhere I look there are people standing up.

They are using their super powers for good instead of evil.

And what I’m noticing is that no two heroes look alike.

There are those who are loud and brash–shouting from the roof tops. They stand up in front and demand to be seen and heard. They are a force of nature. They don’t only hold the line–they push it forward.

Some work quietly. They are industrious even though they are never in the spotlight. They work with slight of hand and relentless focus. You might never know they were there–but you would absolutely feel their loss if they didn’t show up.

We also have level headed mediators. Those who walk with one foot in two different worlds–breaching divides and listening for the opportunities to change a tide from the other side. They have cool heads, warm hearts and an almost endless capacity for empathy.

And then there are heroes that live in the places we fear the most and understand the least. They are pushed down relentlessly. Their power is waking up and doing life over and over again–despite the resistance. They lead by living.

There are so many of us.

And we are so different from each other.

But we are ALL needed.

Be careful in this electrically charged climate that we don’t alienate each other, believing there is only one way to fight for right.

No super hero should be made to feel as if they are less because their power isn’t the same as someone else’s.

There is no manual on how to fight evil and support love.

When we are fighting for equality for everyone–it seems silly to judge HOW someone uses their best self to create a better world. We are all unique and that is our true strength.

Today I’m taking a moment to remind myself that I bring something special to the moment and the movement. Sometimes I don’t even know exactly what it is, but I know it’s there.

I’m reminding myself that I don’t need outside validation from other people to know my true heart and my true soul and my true intentions.

I know I won’t always get everything right, but it will not keep me from both trying and always reevaluating how I can do a better job and be a better person.

I’m taking a moment to remind YOU that in this time of great energy and emotion…

it’s okay to do YOUR work, YOUR way.

And I’m reminding myself not to judge what is unfamiliar. I believe no one should judge a person for helping in the way that feels the most organic to them.

We need ALL the people and ALL their super powers. And I don’t want you to think that what you have to offer isn’t important. If you love and you try and you care and you are doing the best that you can–then you are necessary. Don’t get discouraged.

“I am the one thing in life. I can control. I am inimitable. I am an original”

-Aaron Burr, Wait For It

Don’t give up–do YOUR work, YOUR way.

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Nov

1

2016

NaNoWriMo with a Tini Twist

Filed under: Community, Drafting, NaNoWriMo, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Writing

NaNoWriMo with a Tini Twist

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. It’s been a conscious decision–one I’m happy with. Although I will tell you, I do miss blogging from time to time.

Where have I been?

I’ve been writing and growing. It’s that simple. I’ve come to realize that my blog (no matter how much I love it) takes time away from two very important components of life as a writer.

  1. Writing
  2. Improving craft

So, I made a new contract with myself when it came to my blog. I would only be spending time posting when I had a topic I was passionate about sharing. I would no longer be taking time from writing a manuscript and improving my craft, to cultivate a blog post. All posts would either be on the tip of my finger tips–straining to become a link in my blog chain–or they wouldn’t be written at all. Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing that I have to blog about that so important the world will stop spinning if I don’t show up every Tuesday and Thursday. In fact–I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you haven’t even noticed I’d gone MIA. And that’s okay. I’m hoping you’ve been busy doing productive and inspiring things, too.

But today I do have the urge to check in and to share a bit of info with you. Guess what today is????

 

November 1st.

NaNoWriMo 2016

Others wise known at the kick off to National Novel Writing Month!

Just to be up front–I am not a die hard NaNo-er. I’ve attempted the challenge on a few occasions. And once I even completed it. Score!

But my inability to be a NaNo Winner–more than that once–was rooted in all kinds of complexities.

*Sometimes I wasn’t in the right spot in my WIP to participate. Bad timing.

*As a die hard PANTSTER I often wrote myself into a corner that I couldn’t dig my way out of if I’d been driving a back hoe. Depressing and a waste of time.

*And sometimes real life, company and obligations severely challenged my writing time. It is what it is.

But despite all these very legit speed bumps. And despite more failure than success in this venture, I still find myself fascinated and addicted to the frenetic group mentality. It’s exciting, supportive and motivating. And by golly, I want to be able to order the NaNoWriMo T-shirt at the end.

So, I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Starting today.

But if I’m being honest with you–I’m doing it with a Tini Twist. (Play on words oh, so deliberate.)

*First–a confession. I am no longer a DIE HARD PANTSTER. And I will NEVER go back. I’m not judging you if you like to pants the hell out of everything you do. I’ve just had my own epiphany. And there are two books that have been instrumental in rocking my writer world…

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SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder

and

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STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron

These books were complete and utter game changers for me. I ADORE THEM. In fact, I could blog post for days about them both. But you’ll be better served by reading them than listening to me wax poetic. Just know they’ve made me a better writer. Which leads me to my next point…

*I’m going into this year’s NaNoWriMo Challenge with two months of foundational work on this project. SLICE was a twisted little scrap of an idea that flew down and inspired me over a year ago. It’s been sitting in my recesses, incubating and waiting to grow into something more. The moment I found STORY GENIUS–I figured out the tools I needed to put this story together. And with the support of SAVE THE CAT, I’ve found my way from PANTSTER to BOOKSTORMER. I’m not calling myself a PLOTTER deliberately. I feel like both of these methods offer so much more than just plotting. They are helping me to take my book, my writing, my story telling and my ideas by storm. So, I’m a BOOKSTORMER now. It’s my thing. And because of the books’ positive influences on me, I’ve been developing my own hybrid method of drafting, culled and pasted from these two great approaches. I’m finding what really works the best for me. And because of that, I have never been more ready to take on NaNoWriMo

*And lastly, I have adjusted my expectations for this year’s challenge. I’m confident I can write the 50,000 words after all the pre-planning I’ve done. In fact, I think I’m going to find it rather enjoyable to finally start this thing. But I’ve also wrapped my mind around the big picture for this project. This book storming process is a fluid one that requires me to write the draft from beginning to end, but it also demands that I’m constantly moving and planning with fluidity over the whole project. It requires creativity and flexibility as I move forward in my process.

And because of that, my mantra is…The Work Will Not Suffer. What does that mean to me? Basically, it’s an acknowledgement that I will benefit from the challenge, but I will not write less than my best work just to complete the challenge. I am using NaNoWriMo to my best advantage, but I will never forget my true goal and purpose and the real finish line for me is the one that creates the best book I can write.

But hopefully, my writing, even with it’s Tini Twists will make me a winner at NaNoWriMo and with the bigger picture.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? If yes, do you have any “Tini Twists” that you use to enhance your NaNo experience? Any NaNo tips you want to share? Have you read SAVE THE CAT or STORY GENIUS? I’d love to know what you think. And if you’re looking for a NaNoWriMo Buddy–you can find me at Kimmiepoppins. Let’s do this!

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Aug

21

2016

Will You Raise a Bully or an Original? I See What You’re Doing and It’s Not OK

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Pondering

Ran into a couple fabulous articles this morning that converged into an unexpected blog post. The first article was in relation to something I read in the book ORIGINALS by Adam Grant.

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I loved this book for a million reason, but there was a particular concept that stuck with me and intrigued me. It also got me thinking about another article I saw this morning. But before I can build the connections, here is the back story…

Adam Grant talks about how to raise creative, original kids and how that might relate to the heroes who were Holocaust resisters–saving lives while putting their own at risk. This concept really stuck with me as I examined my own parenting, because who doesn’t want to raise the kind of kids who have enough moral fiber to be some body’s hero some day?

My friend Lynda Mullaly Hunt writes books and raises awareness about the impact every day heroes can have on every day lives…

BE SOMEONE’S HERO. NO CAPE REQUIRED ~~ Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

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Lynda also writes and talks about how…

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I’m here to tell you that can be a beautiful thing. I know this concept (as Lynda is using it) is rooted in a subject close to me–dyslexia. But I also think it’s bigger than that. An important component of raising creative kids (according to this article by Jessica Stillman) is to reason with your kids–to create kids who think independently and don’t just follow the masses.

Laying down the law can be easier than explaining why the law is as it is, but if you’re interested in future creativity, you should take the time to reason with your little ones. Citing studies on the early lives of heroes who rescued people from the Holocaust and highly creative architects, Grant suggests parents “help children think about the consequences of their action for others,”

Not quite sure what Holocaust resisters (incredibly brave as they may have been) have to do with creativity? Morality and creativity are intertwined, Grant explains in another, illuminating TechCrunch interview. “Kids who evolve into creative adults tend to have a strong moral compass,” he says. “They’ve been nurtured by their parents, who’ve talked with them and modeled values of excellence for them that [seed ] concern for the consequences of their [kids’] actions on other people. At the same time, they’re given a lot of autonomy to figure out how they want to live with those values.”

But then the fireworks of connection really started firing in my head when I stumbled upon another article. It made me think about why we struggle to raise kids who are morally and creatively rich. There is a sad cycle holding us back.

Meet the Newest Bully on the Block: The Mean Mom by Mary Beth Sammons

Area of concern for parents in the digital age

Our children aren’t just battling their peers, who are also struggling to learn who they are and what they are about. Our kids are being terrorized by the very people who should be making them feel safe.

The good news, Saltz says, is that if you’re alert to the toxicity of bullying behavior, you can deflect it and send a strong message to your children, by example, that mocking, manipulating and swinging blows at other people is not okay. If you’re looking to stop a bully in her tracks, the best way to do so is to confront the bully directly. “Call it out,” Saltz says on TODAY. “Tell the bully, ‘I see what you’re doing, and it’s not OK. Let’s not do that.”

She adds that moms need to stand up to mom bullies to create a bully-free world. Parents have to teach by example

 

Here’s the thing, we all know that raising great kids and protecting children from bullying is a great thing to do. In the abstract–this is a no brainer. But we don’t always see the world from a place of perspective. We see it in relation to our own needs and interests and fears. I sympathize with that–it is human. But so is admitting we are sometimes wrong and  need to apologize.

So, I’m just going to lay it out there. If you’ve made a mistake–we can get through this–together.

But if you think bullying is a great way to go–we can’t be friends. It’s that simple. I don’t condone that behavior. This is me telling you…

I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND IT’S NOT OK!

Sometimes we get away from our better selves. It happens. It doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us people who need to be more original. We need to step away from the status quo and decide that it might be harder to own our behavior than to live in denial. But being brave enough to do it, might also make us exceptional.

Some days I look around me and realized it’s quite an uphill battle to teach our children to be original, moral, kind and brave.

We live in an environment where we don’t just worry about children being bullied by their day to day life–we have to fight this kind of ignorance on a cyber front. We live in a time that allows people to do and say things they wouldn’t have enough courage to stand up and say to someones face–in front of others. It’s a scary place out there, but it’s worse when bad behavior takes root and hides in the dark. We can’t let that happen.

What I’m asking of you today, is to stand up and be an original.

Behave better than the average person.

And use the internet to shed light, instead allowing bullies to hide in the dark behind cyber shadows.

You can repost this blog. Or you can share your own message.

But please find a way to be heard.

Will you be a bully or an original?

Will you raise a bully or an original?

Will you stand up and say…

I see what you’re doing and it’s not ok?

I’m counting on you…

 

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May

3

2016

I’m Committed to my Growth

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Pondering, Writing

Today I’m saying something out loud that I’ve been thinking for awhile–I’m committed to my growth.

One of the many ways I’m honoring this commitment is by spending less time on the internet and attached to my phone. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, my fabulous cyber friends, but the more I look, listen and learn, the more I realize that the internet isn’t the best place to spend my time. Let’s be honest–a lot of bullsh*t goes on over there–a lot.

So, I’ve decided I’m not committed to my bullsh*t. Instead I’m committed to my growth.

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What does that mean?

It means I’ve watched my writing productivity sky rocket when I prioritize deep work over shallow work. Read DEEP WORK: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport if you want more information about what that entails.

I’ve also realized that I love this blog and very much enjoy writing it–when I organically have something to say. But, if I have to spend too much of my quality writing time and family time thinking about what to pen–I probably didn’t have to struggle with a post that day. And I don’t need to apologize for it. If it was that hard to write, then you probably didn’t want to read it anyway.

And yesterday I saw a great quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s FB page that resonated with me…

“Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business.”

It’s come to my attention lately that when I’m too engaged in social media, I feel the need to have opinions and give commentary on things that really aren’t my business. This is especially true in this political climate. The truth is, I never walk away, from minding other people’s business, feeling welcome or believing I made positive change. In fact, I usually feel anxious and frustrated–occasionally a little sick to my stomach. And internet trolls are horrifying. I’ve decided I want to limit my exposure to that kind of stuff.

And then there is that insane addiction going on where you can’t talk to a person without them having their face in their phone. It’s so disheartening when you’re at a restaurant and their right in front of you on FB. Or your having a conversation with someone and you lose the face off. But, since I’m more dedicated to trying to mind my own business, I’m not going to talk more about what kind of bullsh*t that is. I’m just going to say that I don’t want to be that person. I can’t change them and I’m aware of that. But I don’t have to be rude–that’s my choice. I want to be a listener. I want other’s to feel valued when they are around me. And I’m also trying to stop using my phone as a mental pacifier. I used to be able to be with myself for more than 30 seconds without needing to be entertained. How can I grow when I’m not thinking? When I’m not day dreaming? And putting my phone away is another opportunity to pull out a book and read!

And then there’s the hype about needing a crazy social media presence. And I hate to admit this… there are a ton of fabulous authors that blog and do crazy social media–and I read their posts and follow them–but I’ve never bought or read their books.

I am skeptical about how social media translates into book sales and success as an author. I’m not saying it can’t happen or that a strong presence doesn’t have some beneficial side effects, but I’ve become convinced that it’s not the best way for my growth to occur. If time on social media directly translated into book sales and followers–I probably would have sold more books. #hardtruths

Do you see what I’m declaring here?

I’m still going to be on social media, write a blog, have a smart phone and adore my laptop. But I need to make sure that I’m functioning like an intelligent human being. I need to use these things as tools. I do not need to let them use me. I must be sure they aren’t ruling my life. Instead, I have to be running the show and doing productive things that matter.

Today I’m taking another step towards balance and sanity.

I’m committed to my growth.

Share your thoughts if it resonates.

I’ll see you when I see you.

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Apr

19

2016

Mind and Matter

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Revision, Running, Writing

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I can’t run right now. *growls* I mind and it matters.

The weather is perfect.

And up until last week, I was kicking milage butt. I was on track for one of my best months of running to date.

And now–not so much.

It started with some mild leg pain. But it wasn’t too bad, more like a sore muscle, so I was running through it. And it always felt better after the run. But even so, I started to notice my runs were getting slower. And instead of the leg warming up over the course of the run and feeling better, it began to hurt throughout the whole run. Clearly I was compensating for something wrong by changing my gait and now more of my leg was beginning to hurt. At this point I realized “running it out” wasn’t going to be the answer.

Boo!

I was going to have to stop running and rest the leg, which means I need to find other ways to keep up with staying in shape and eating right. Exercise is essential, because I may be willing to count those calories and hold myself accountable, but I’m not capable of doing it without some extra calories providing me with real food in moderation.

But here’s the problem…running is the quickest, most efficient way I know of, to stay in shape. I’m not saying there aren’t others, but this is the one that works for me. So, this means I’m now stuck finding other ways–more time consuming ways–to get a somewhat comparable burn. And I also have to go to a podiatrist and get my inserts checked. *sigh* And all of this takes time. Time I need for my writing.

You see where this is going, right?

WRONG!

And while all the changes have been inconvenient, the truth is that I’ve committed to writing at least a little bit every day this month with #WriteDaily30 a challenge run by Linda Urban. And because I’ve eliminated my excuses and decided that a little is better than nothing at all–I’m making daily progress on my writing. Really good progress that makes me happy.

So, what I’m trying to tell you is that I’m really grumpy because I can’t run and my leg is being a pain in the leg. But I’m also really excited because I got retrained on the nautilus machines at the gym and some day I’m going to be kinda buff. And then the pup is  dog-wagging excited that I’m taking him for longer walks. And despite it all, the writing is getting done because as I was recently reminded that it’s all about mind over matter…if you don’t mind being flexible, it won’t matter.

When has mind over matter worked for you? Have you had to cope with a running or sports injury? Were you climbing the walls?

 

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Apr

12

2016

SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER

Filed under: Check-it-out, Marketing, Pondering

SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER

viral |ˈvīrəl|
adjective

2 relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another: a viral video ad | the video went viral and was seen by millions.

resonance |ˈrezənəns|
noun

1 the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating: the resonance of his voice.
• the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions: the concepts lose their emotional resonance.

 

Viral on Colorful People Buttons

I’ve been thinking about a a concept I’ve privately termed VIRAL RESONANCE. When something or someone explodes into awareness, seemingly blowing over the tipping point between obscurity and popularity, I believe a key component (making that person or content stick) is personal connectivity. There is something honest in the transaction that resonates with the receiver. Then everyone wants to share their connection with someone else, creating that glorious snowball effect.

I know, I get excited too.

But this theory, as fabulous as it is, has certain pitfalls. Connectivity can’t be mandated and honesty lives in the eye of the beholder. Truth can be as unique as a fingerprint–as maddening as that may seem. One person can’t decide what inspires and sets a fire under another person.

If viral resonance could be controlled and I was elected the SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER, Donald Trump would be fading into obscurity right before your eyes. In fact with my grand position, I’d build a 30 foot wall around Donald Trump, a cone of silence. No, wait–make it 40 foot wall and HE can pay for it. *pauses for a moment to enjoy the tingles*

If I were the Supreme Viral Resonance Commander...

Sadly, I am not the SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER. But I am curious…

In your life time–whether it’s books, movies, art, people, toys, fads–whatever. What are some of the most fascinating things you’ve seen resonate with people and then go ape shit viral? And why do you think that particular thing or person made such a huge connection and had such an impact? Give me your best and your worst viral examples. Let’s discuss. Can this phenomenon be predicted in any way? Replicated? What do YOU do to bring viral resonance to your work? And can I please be elected SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER?

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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

15

2016

Asking for a Friend

Filed under: Pondering, Reading

Hey blog readers, I’m using this blog to solicit a bit of reading advice. Of course, I’m asking for a friend.

Today’s post is about challenging reads.

What are your personal strategies for reading a book that makes you feel a little stupid?

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My friend clearly knows there are books out there that aren’t always the right fit for a particular reader. It makes perfect sense. We all have different sensibilities when it comes to literature and that’s cool.

But what happens if something is a classic, and award winner–a truly notable book and you WANT to read it–but it’s hard. And the more you try, the more you think there’s a whole level of intelligent readers out there that have been floating just out of your friend’s reach.

That friend knows that reading this book WILL be educational and enlightening in a variety of different ways, but that doesn’t make said book any easier to read. *sigh*

One way or another, this book will be read. My friend is stubborn about pursuing growth, but just wondering–asking for a friend–if you have any suggestions for making difficult reads easier and more accessible.

Share your tips and if you can’t help me, maybe you have a friend who can…

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