Proud Mama

This year C is in second grade, and her reading abilities have skyrocketed.  In first grade she required Title 1 help, but this year she is completely caught up–I’ll find out at conference next week if she’s ahead or not.  She is exploring books in a whole new way.  Unlike me, she loves nonfiction.  If there is something that interests her, she wants to read about it.  On the other hand, she likes a good story, especially if it has some whimsy.

Yesterday was library day at school, but she didn’t have enough time to find a book she really wanted to read.  She grabbed a drawing book–she’s my little artist–but was frustrated that she didn’t have a chapter book.  So, after school we traipsed down to the public library.  We spent an hour reading together and finding just the right book for her to read on her own, and one for me to read to her.  When it was time to check out, she asked me if she could have her own library card.  I almost got a little misty.  My baby wanted her own library card!  Let me just say, she was glowing as the librarian, a young man with funky glasses and impressive tattoo sleeves, got her all set up and put the books on her card.

As we drove home, I got to thinking about the books she has really been into this fall.  Some are surprising to me, others not so much, so I thought I would share what my seven-year-old likes in case it provides some ideas to spark your child’s reading.  I plan to do this from time to time, so keep an eye on my book review page.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon: A beautiful picture book about a baby fruit bat who is raised by a mother bird, and how she discovers what she really is and how she connects with the creatures in her world.

The Ramona Collection by Beverly Cleary: These were favorites when I was in elementary school, and I am so excited that C loves them now.  Ramona is a timeless character that kids and adults can relate to.

Daisy Meadows’s Fairy Books: Full of whimsy and girly fun. Kirsty and Rachel make friends with fairies and help them keep colors, holidays, and pets in line in the human and fairy worlds.

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park: This sassy kid cracks up our whole family. I’m a little sad that C is reading these on her own now. They are great read alouds.

This is just a small sampling of what she’s reading these days. I’ll be sure to mention any noteworthy ones in the future!

Get Out of the Vacuum

For hundreds of years writing has been qualified as a solo endeavor.  Tortured souls holed up deep in the woods and in attics to bleed words into their pieces.  These days, however, writing has become a contact sport.  No, we aren’t tackling each other–most of the time–but we are making contact with other writers and our readers.

There are countless articles out there comparing the traditional and indie publishing worlds, and the line between the two is becoming increasingly blurry.  As a result, writing and publishing is becoming more accessible to more people.   Some see this as tragic market saturation.  I view it as a word renaissance!  I love words.  I love getting my own on paper and manipulating them, and equally love reading others’ creations.   Over the last year, I’m finding most writers are the same way.

Last spring I participated in Courtney Carver’s Goodblog Project.  I was–and still am–working on my first novel with the intent to self-publish.  I’ve been a blogger for years, but I knew it was time to trash the self-absorbed site and put together a professional blog that would offer something to others.  Courtney is a connection genius, and helped me discover how I could help people with my writing.  She taught me to value my work and the time I put into it.  Just because I’m not getting paid for it now doesn’t mean I never will, or that I don’t have something to offer the world.  As a result, this blog is here chronicling my journey to becoming a published author in hopes of encouraging others to reach for their dream.

I began reading Hugh Howey’s Silo Saga and went bananas for his writing.   When I discovered he was indie published, I started researching his story.  I discovered a very down to earth guy doing exactly what I want to be doing.  People say you should emulate those who are successful at what you want to do.  Like Courtney, Hugh is big into connection with his readers and fellow writers, and is probably has the most integrity of any celebrity out there.  When I grow up, I want to be like Hugh.

I mentioned in an earlier post the connections I’m making on Twitter.  My Twitter writing group has taken me out of my daily writing vacuum.  They give me encouragement to keep producing words, even if they aren’t all winners.  We love having new people join us.  You can find us at #SprintDaily.

I’ve also connected with newly published authors via Twitter and had the privilege of helping with their book launches and promotions, another way my blog is able to serve others.

I’m a very social person, so it quickly became evident I would not thrive in a writing vacuum.  I’m so grateful to Courtney, Hugh, and my #SprintDaily crew for getting me out of the vacuum.  My writing and my life is flourishing.  How will you step out and get connected?

Freedom to Write

We’ve all hear the saying, “We make plans and God laughs.”  I know I’ve treated God to a lot of giggles over the course of my life as a planning addict.  Someone has to keep Him entertained up there right?

A few weeks ago I blogged about not taking days off from writing and shared my current goals.  Then life started happening, and I had to rearrange my life a bit to help some friends.  Usually I get frustrated about how things are not working out for me.  This time around, I gained some perspective.

I’m sure some of this wisdom has come from my reading of The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, which teaches the reader how to stay present and centered on what is going on around her.  I’m learning (slowly) now to allow myself to be swept up in the crazy of the world around me, to anchor myself in what is real and true, and see how I fit in.

I have been blessed with the gift of time.  Time to pursue my passion (writing), and time to be available to help those in need.  This last week the call has been to reach out to others.  Yes, this slowed my work on my novel, but in a way it has been a gift.  I’ve been forced to stand back and be grateful for the hand I’ve been dealt at this moment in time.

I also began re-evaluating my goals for my work.  This doesn’t mean I’m backing off or stopping.  I’m just getting more creative with my time and giving myself grace for days that don’t go according to my plan.  Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits wrote an article about working without goals a while back.  At the time, I could never see myself doing that.  It was much too loosey goosey for my structured personality.  I was pretty sure I’d never accomplish anything.

What seemed like a blow to the perfect little schedule and my pretty list of goals, turned out to be the teaching moment I needed.  I love my work, and because it feeds me (hee hee, not financially yet), it will get done.  I’m drawn to my desk each and every day.  That in and of itself will get the work done.   Removing the pressure of goals has actually freed up more space in my mind for creativity.  I had a huge day last week where I wrote just under 2,000 words in one session (a personal best) and crossed the 30K mark in my WIP.  Because I wasn’t stressing the numbers and the clock, I was free to just write.

My writing has value to me and others.  It’s not something I have to plan to do or justify doing.  It’s just something I do.  It’s part of who I am.  I haven’t always been able to say those words.  They are life giving to me right now.

Is there something in your life–a passion–you feel you don’t have time for, or have to justify devoting time to it?  How can you allow yourself to embrace it and let it nourish you?

The Witness by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts is one of my long time favorite authors.  She is consistently good and prolific.  The Witness, in my humble opinion, is one of her best works.  There is action, suspense, and just the right amount of romance to satisfy my tender heart.

Elizabeth Fitch witnesses the murder of her new friend and a man they met during an underage excursion to a nightclub.  The killers: The Russian Mafia.  And now they are after her.  She does the right thing and goes to the police, but even U.S. Marshalls are unable to keep her safe.  So, Elizabeth runs for it.  Did I mention that Elizabeth is unnaturally smart?  No one with a regular IQ could have survived like Elizabeth.

After twelve years of running, she settles on the outskirts of a small Ozark town.  The imagery for Elizabeth’s (now Abigail) cabin in the woods is pure magic.  I spent most of my childhood summers in the mountains of Idaho, so I have soft spot for those settings.  I was ready to move right in with Abigail.

Things were going perfectly for Abigail until she meets the town’s Chief of Police, Brooks Gleason.  He teaches her to love and trust.  When she finally reveals her true identity, he guides her to real freedom.

I have to confess, my word count this last week has suffered because of this book.  All I wanted to do was read.  The characters were unique and real.  I practically held my breath through it waiting for the bad guys to jump out of the trees guns roaring.

At the same time, I was studying Roberts’ style.  I’m not sure if I’m just more aware of how authors do things these days, or if her flow was a bit different in this book.  Either way, it informed and inspired my writing.

So, now that I’m finished I have no excuses for not getting my work done…at least until I start re-reading Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.  October is always Harry Potter month for me.  Look out Hogwarts, here I come!