The “Week of Positives” may be over but I have more pics to share. This summer, more than ever, “finding the extraordinary in the ordinary” wasn’t just a tagline to my blog.
Growing up in Baltimore, everyone I knew loved Ocean City, MD. It may be have been three hours away, but that didn’t stop my friends and I from making day trips to Chesapeake Bay and beyond. (We’d leave at the crack of dawn and get back at midnight!) Family vacations to OC always included days on the beach, hours in the ocean, French fries with vinegar, popcorn, ice cream, and salt water taffy. Who can forget the smell of salt air mixed with heat-press transfers at tee-shirt shops on the boardwalk? Who can forget collecting seashells? Who can forget the enormous sandcastles spotlighted at night? Who can forget the feeling of summer?
Living in New Jersey, we go “down the shore” whenever we can. Guess what, hon? My mom loved the beach too, and since she grew up in Morristown, NJ, went “down the shore” with her family to Bradley Beach. Yesterday would have been her 79th birthday, so this post is dedicated to her, one extremely Brave Girl.
Growing up in suburban Baltimore, I saw my share of squirrels,
And although they weren’t seen much, skunks made their presence known.
I had no idea that suburban New Jersey–directly west of Manhattan–would be home to all those animals and more. Recently, we received a new “visitor” to our backyard. It wasn’t this cute raccoon resting in a tree,
or the opossum that chatters at night,
or the groundhog that tunnels under our yard,
or the wild turkey that displays its feathers for the ladies,
or the Box Turtle that gave me a kiss,
or the Red Fox we see at dawn and dusk,
At first I thought it was a fox because it looked more like this, but redder.
I told my family, “It’s strange, I saw a Red Fox at ten in the morning.They’re usually asleep by then.”
The next day, Hubby said, “Come quick! There’s a coyote in our backyard!”
I said, “That’s the fox I saw!”
He said, “It’s a coyote!”
“It’s a coyote! I know from watching Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.”
I have a bad habit. I put things down in odd why-would-I-ever-look-there-again places and then promptly forget where I put them. I’ve devised many strategies to overcome this habit. Baking supplies are in a designated “baking section,” my phone is, generally, in the kitchen, and my keys hang on a key hook (genius, right?). But, when I travel, strategies go out the window, and I waste a lot of time looking for misplaced items.
Hon, you know the expression, “you are your own worst critic”? It’s true. I am. Maybe I should give myself a small break. The latest thing I lost was a bracelet. I was wearing it and then I wasn’t. This happened while visiting my mom in a hospice facility in Baltimore. Talk about distracted! I was that, and agitated and sad and many other emotions. But, still!
The bracelet was a birthday gift from a friend. It was made in Mexico, sold in New Jersey, traveled back to Mexico, returned to New Jersey and then lost in Baltimore. The bracelet was initially too small, but the artisan made me a really nice offer! He said he was visiting family in Mexico and would take it with him, add a couple of links, and then bring it back to New Jersey. He did, and then I lost it!
In Baltimore, I dug through my bags, re-traced my steps, left my name and number at the places I’d been, and then had a thought. To keep the environment sterile, I had to wear a gown while at the hospice facility. Maybe the bracelet had gotten caught on the cuff of the gown? Maybe it was in the garbage?
I called the facility and, when I visited my mom again, searched for the bracelet to no avail. I was annoyed with myself! When did it fall off? Why hadn’t I noticed earlier? Where could it be? I even considered ordering another one but didn’t want to ask for another bracelet to take another trip.
A few weeks later, while emptying a knitting bag, guess what fell out. My bracelet! I couldn’t believe it! Yay!
Either it fell off and into the bag without my realizing it OR is it possible I took it off before gowning up? And if I did, why-oh-why would I drop it in the bottom of a knitting bag and not put it somewhere I might remember? Oh yeah, I know why…because I have a bad habit!
Thanks to Laura Sibson, I am participating in a “My Writing Process” Blog Hop. I added the Bunny Hop part as a nod to Easter, Spring, and my own beautiful Tween Bunny who is my first reader.
Laura earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts after discovering a passion for writing novels geared toward teens. Laura’s a fellow runner (she runs much longer distances than me), dog-walker, coffee-drinker, “ingester-of-pop culture,” and mom of teens. She lives in suburban Philadelphia and has impressed me with her knowledge of “Bawlmor” accents.
Laura describes the paranormal young adult novel she’s writing on her blog, Laura Sibson,A journey toward writing dangerously. Her novel sounds spooky and fascinating, and it involves the Black Aggie, a real statue that used to reside a stone’s throw away from my parents’ house, in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.
Do you think its a coincidence that Laura connected with a Bmore girl? I don’t know, hon. You’ll have to ask her!
My Writing Process Questions and Answers:
What are you working on?
Coco, the main character in my chapter book is based on a true story and a real dog. An article describing how a dog ended up on a NJ Transit train headed to Manhattan appeared in my local paper. We had recently adopted a puppy. A story was born! Coco’s inherent doggie abilities and desire to find bones will, hopefully, lead him on many adventures (meaning more chapter books).
In the picture book series I’m writing, my five year-old main character wanted to become a superhero just like his big brother. In the first book, he did it! Now he’s off to conquer the world (and his fears) as the fastest superhero ever. I’m working on books about the day he thought his mommy was a zombie and about the time he battled deep sea creatures at the town pool.
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Guess what one of my goals is? Hint: it’s in the name of my blog. ENERGY!
I hope my writing grabs readers from the get-go! My manuscripts are populated by relatable characters, alliteration, funny phrases, and a dash of silliness. The universal theme underlying all of my manuscripts is family. Whether the action revolves around siblings or parents and their children, the action happens between the humor and heart.
In my chapter book, Coco stays true to his doggie characteristics, but his impulsivity takes him to unexpected places. He meets a zany cast of characters along the way and, inadvertently, saves the day while on the search for the perfect bone. This chapter book (and the others I plan to write), will fill the gap for elementary school kids who are one step beyond First Readers but not yet ready for longer chapter books.
Logan, my latest picture book‘s main character, is just like real little boys. How do I know? Because he’s a compilation of my “superhero” nephew, my son, and the boys I teach at pre-school and at the elementary school. My nephew says, “Activate! Pshht! Pow!” So does Logan. My nephew says things are “mega.” So does Logan. Sibling rivalry amongst my triplets plus one more was rampant. My hope is that kids will love Logan and his brother’s vivid imaginations while parents will appreciate the heart of the story.
Why do you write what you do?
I write because ideas pop into my head, words and phrases tumble off my tongue, and characters stand in front of me, tail wagging and arms crossed, begging to be brought to life.
I write because the child inside of me connects to children from toddlers to teenagers. I still love playing in a sandbox, climbing to the top of the swingset, and sledding down a hill at lightning speed.
I write because I believe stories are magical.
How does your writing process work?
An idea or a character or a turn of phrase will start off as a wisp of thought. The ideas, characters and turns of phrases that stay in my head like a song-on-the-radio-you-can’t-stop-singing must be written down. If scenes start appearing in my mind’s eye, while I’m driving, running errands, walking Lucy and, always, when I try to go to sleep, then I have to get my thoughts on paper. The process has begun.
First drafts go to my wonderful critique group. I revise. Second drafts are critiqued. I revise. Etc!
My most important revision tools are a thesaurus, dictionary, rhyming dictionary and critiques from my group (or an editor or agent, if I’m lucky). More importantly, I take my watch off, don’t answer the phone, concentrateon listening to how my characters would speak and inhabit the world I’ve created.
Last November, I signed up for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo challenge to come up with a new picture book idea for a month. Thirty new ideas are now residing in my Idea Box.
Joining the My Writing Process Blog Hop, I’d like to introduce you to (drumroll, please):
Michelle and I connected on Twitter (Michelle on Twitter, me on Twitter). Michelle not only has a blog called Michelle Karéne, Children’s Author, is a member of SCBWI and an aspiring children’s writer, she earned her doctorate in Biomedical Engineering, works for a biotechnology company, and has published fifteen articles in various scientific journals. Michelle’s short story, “Magnolia Fall,” will be published in the 14th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection. Michelle, who lives in North Carolina with her family, blogs about her chapter book and young adult works-in-progress, funny things her three daughters say, nature photographs and dinner ideas. I hope you’ll check out her blog.
After five nights of dark and cold, we sought out warmer digs in Bmore or Baltimore. Now, back in New Jersey, we are waiting to see if the Nor’easter will send us back on the road again. The roads were salted early this morning and it just started snowing but, we are thankful that our house wasn’t damaged, happy that we have a house, fortunate that we have family to stay with and glad that we have wonderful friends and neighbors. Hon, we are lucky!