Wednesday, July 9, 2014

7/9 Q and A with author Cynthia Lord...

  1. Dana K
    Posted July 9, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink
    Hello there and thank you for taking the time to do this for us!
    I am wondering…before you had submitted your first manuscript and once you had an idea, what kept you from planting those seeds of doubt in your head that often stop me in my tracks?
    Dana :)
    • Posted July 9, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink
      Doubt is my middle name, Dana! But I’ve come to see that *revision* is actually where books become wonderful. My first drafts are just a framework, an exploration of a story and characters. It takes some faith to write even if you don’t feel confident, but knowing it doesn’t have to be right the first time through is also freeing.
      And you can play little games with yourself, if they help. I *named* that judgmental inner editor voice in my head. When I was growing up, I wasn’t very good at penmanship and we had a stern teacher for that named “Mrs. Cathcart.” She would swoop around behind us and she had a rubber stamp with four sides: “Handwriting 1,” (the best) to “Handwriting 4″ (the worst). She’d come up behind us and BAM! her hand would suddenly appear and stamp “Handwriting 3″ on my paper. It was demoralizing, because I had to finish the page even though it was already judged as not good enough. And that’s how it can feel sometimes when I’m writing a first draft. That inner editor slaps “Writer 3″ on my page.
      But I named my inner editor Mrs. Cathcart and when I’m doing a first draft, I send her away on vacation. I imagine her on a cruise sipping umbrella drinks, hanging out in the deck chairs, asking the waiter to rub some sunscreen on her, etc. It has to be some place *good* so she doesn’t want to come back! Then if I feel her creeping in, I tell her it’s not her time yet, and I send her somewhere else fun. I’ll call her home when I’m ready for her. It’s goofy but that actually helps to take some of the seriousness out of the whole thing and allows me to do that first draft.

Monday, July 7, 2014

7/7 Mini-Lesson Monday, Week 1 of Teacher's Write...

summer library trip

fluorescent lights

padded feet down the ramp

the squeak of the standard issue library step stool

small fingers pushing the keys of the keyboard, one-finger-at-a-time

faded Berber carpet playing summer's anthem of flip flops smacking against the soles of bare feet

ticking clock, harried mothers, hands on hips...Mom? Mom! Mom.

summer reading tickets clenched in fists, eager children gazing that wall of "junk drawer" prizes

VHS boxes mixed amongst DVDs and books on CD, old and new coming together like the grandmom      tenderly sharing a book with her grandbaby

plastic bucket seats and worn out cushions

make shift book bags  hung over shoulders, ready to be filled until they are too heavy to carry

musty and stale, the air smells of books and my childhood

My 8 year old girl sits, face in a book, alongside the play table of Thomas trains and tracks as pudgy hands dig for the perfect one to zoom around, she pushes all the clanking of wheels, the squeals, the grandmom reading to her grandbaby, the clock ticking and she reads and she reads and she reads

Freshly Sharpened Pencils (a picture book work in progress!)

I created this illustrated picture book in college and it is still a work in progress.  (I am not an illustrator but I am pretty proud of the pictures!)

These are actual photos of my Nana Pauline and I playing cards at her dining room table, 
an inspiration for this book!

Ooh Child (a poem)

One song, chosen for this very moment
            blaring loud…

Ooh, ooh child
are gonna

alone, just me and the road

                                                mixed fear and peacefulness
take over all reasoning –

expectation and momentum build
lift off - at the crest of the hill

a split second of air
between the tires and

 the ground

Ooh, ooh child
things will be

the view - breathtaking
of gold and
fire -red
of apple-green and
dusty brown leaves of fall

then I am falling,
                                    but mostly hoping
that everything
            is going to be

I am safe

I can go on, right?
I can, really.
I can, are you sure,
go on?

I think I can.

Some day, yeah
we’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done

Some day
when your head is much lighter

Some day, yeah
we’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun

Some day

when the world is much brighter

My Hopeful Picture Book Idea: Noticing

The waning sun hangs patiently in twilight’s last hour, casting a golden orange slow-glow on her bedroom wall. 

            To most eyes and ears, it has been an ordinary day – full of nothings and no matters.  To her, it was a celebratory day.  Perfect.  Memorable.  A string of small moments seared into her mind.

            Would others have noticed what she had? No. It is unlikely.  But she, as a young soul and self-proclaimed writer, noticed more than most.  You see, that’s what writers and young people are supposed to do – they notice the small details in life that others do not.  What others might take for granted.  The small details that most completely miss because their feet move too quickly and their eyes and ears are simply, yet mournfully, closed.
            She lays in that golden orange slow-glow of twilight and remembers…

            Hearing her Mama’s laughter in the morning – from the porch…loud,
and with the occasional….snort.  Laughter that makes you want to laugh out loud too, even if you missed what was just…so…funny.

            Scooping up that ugly rock by the creek’s edge – now resting lovingly amongst her most highly-regarded treasures on her bureau.  A rock, her expert stone-seeking brother would have skipped right past.  But no, it deserved attention.  It had personality, like she.  It told a story.

            There was the vanilla scent caught, of a neighbor-lady strolling by, that flashed memories of her Nana, long gone, but always taking up a whole huge and gigantic part of the young girl’s heart.

A smile-to-yourself-moment, a surprising discovery actually, of a never-ever before seen guest to the birdhouse.  A smallish, brownish grayish mouse – its feet grasping a slender branch, a twig really. Its tiny paws perched oh, so, daintily on the ledge, enjoying the seeds and sunshine, thankful to its feathered friends for a few moments of space and peace.

            And lastly, yummily, there was the still lingering taste, the unforgettable taste, of “breakfast for dinner” – peanut butter banana chocolate chip pancakes – Daddy’s specialty, cooked just for her and only for her.

            As twilight’s golden orange slow-glow has all but faded, the girl sends a wondering, a message really, into the darkening sky for all the children of the world to breathe in…for all those who are listening, really listening….

            What will you notice this day and the next? 

            Sweet dreams, wonderful world.

Writer's Notebook: A Mother's Pride (working title)

I hardly remember the title of the song or the memorized line of the solo I sang in the junior high chorus concert.  I can’t recall how I sang it or the applause at the end.  What I do remember was my mom (carnations in hand) waiting for me afterwards – hugging me tight and her words, whispering into my hair, “I am so proud of you.” The moment, ending abruptly as my best girl friends ran up screeching, their moms in tow.  As we giggled about nothing, the moms surprised us with the words, “Let’s go to Friendly’s for ice cream.”  A school night?  It was late and a dark-black sky, that matched our choir skirts, surrounded the bright moon.  We arrived and noticed the clock hands inching towards nine.  When we were escorted to our seats, the moms motioned us to sit at one table, alone.  This was too much for us giggling and screeching and squealing girls.  We were in a state of exhilaration, still on high from the concert and in complete amazement that we were eating ice cream past bedtime.  My peanut butter cup sundae arrived and my mom stole glances at me, smile plastered on her face.  I wanted her to be sitting beside me, but the lure of girl independence held strong to my bones.  That night, peanut butter and fudge smell on my skin, mom said goodnight, telling me once again, how very proud she was of me.  We hugged, holding each other longer than usual – she wanting to hold onto her baby – me, wanting to never let go of my mother’s pride.

Teacher's Write

I joined Twitter about a year ago, and (a theme is evolving here) I dropped the ball.  Recently, in a rainy day bout of boredom, I visited My Twitter page and was enamored by a retweet referencing #teacherswrite. It had all the elements of just what I have been searching for of late: inspiration, a place to be a writer, and some positive love from supportive teachers. Ahhhh. Sounds good, right?

The first post by Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts, asked us to share why we are writing and our goals. She even replied to my post which feels awesome! Link to Jen's first post

Hi Jen and thank you for your words of inspiration! I am writing because I love it and it terrifies me at the same time. I want to do this for me and for the risk taking element of it all. I guess, no scratch that, I KNOW, that the dream of being a published author calls to me, always at the back of my head, sort of nipping at my consciousness. But mostly, I do know that to be a great teacher of writing, one must be a writer themselves. I want to be walking the walk so I can talk the talk, so to speak. I go through spurts of writing and I need this camp community to cheer me on, hold me accountable, and push me to make the time to do one of the things I love most. That just about sums it up. Well geez...I think that only answered the first goal...stay committed throughout and if I fall off the horse, get right back on!! Looking forward to learning a lot about myself as a writer. Oh and meeting other like minded peeps!

(Jen's reply!!!) I'm so glad you are here, Dana! It sounds like you've got a strong "why" and I believe that's a great place to start! Welcome and bravo to you for going for your dream. :) 

I am really pumped to go back to camp!! Here's a photo of me from the 80s at camp, sporting a plastic button necklace. Let's just say that this necklace spent a number of years in the kids' dress up bins but makes a cameo in this awesome comparison then and now shot: me in camp then and me in camp now!