Desk Yoga — Part 3

Here we are with Part Three of the desk yoga series and I have to say that she really made me laugh.  “Please join me in the following exercises to alleviate any stress that you might have. . . ”


“. . . from sitting at your desk for extended periods of time.”

Only desk sitting stress?  Rats.

And the fact that I found this OH SO funny, should tell you something about my day.  Obviously there is someone from whom I need relief.   Deep breath — one, two, three.  My husband informs me that stress relief is not supposed to be obnoxious and that I, thus, should not count to three out loud.

Fortunately, there are more yoga  videos yet to come.


Free Writer’s Workshop

Having troubles getting going on your writing during these hot summer days? We have just what you need —  another free writer’s workshop.

When:  July 10th, 10 am until Noon
Where:  Florissant Presbyterian Church
Topic:  Beginnings, Part 2:   Introducing Your Character.

Beginnings really are one of the trickiest things to write and introducing your character is a big part of the difficulty.  How do I hook my reader while also letting them know who the story is about?

Click here for details including a rough schedule.

We will provide water,  coffee and writing tips.

You come with a notebook, enthusiasm and some writing to share.  Bring the beginning of your current project to read aloud.

Don’t forget to RSVP to Jessica in the church office (314-837-8555) so that we know how many people to expect and have enough chairs set up.

Hope to see you there!


June: Writing Goals and Word Counts

Phew.  What a busy summer week — tennis (or something with rackets and a ball) and writing and reading and swimming and writing and a wedding and reading.  Sorry for the lack of commas but that is how the summer feels — lazy days of summer?  Not around here!

Which may be why I met my writing goal again last week — 7160 words total.  Hurray!

Today we are kicking back a little bit.  More reading and writing.  No tennis. Weeding and light housework.  Nothing huge but lots of puttering.

So what am I writing this week?  I have a writing article to turn in and another due next week so those will be my focus.  But I also want to get more done  on the two picture books that I need to turn in by August.  This of course means pulling down some reading time which will be fun.

I hope everyone else is making time to enjoy their summer while still fitting in some writing!  Find the write venue and you can write about the things you are doing with your family — check out this article by writing buddy Shannon Moore.  Way to go, Shannon!


Desk Yoga, Part 2

I blogged about hand stretches/exercises last week with a promise of more to come.  Here is the second post on that general topic with a couple of yoga stretches for your neck and shoulders.

I don’ t know about you, but this is going to come in handy when I have to sit still at conferences too.

I’m not sure how many videos the Yoga Sanctuary has available but there is at least one more so ore desk yoga to come next week.

Until then, happy writing and stay healthy!


The Best Children’s Books of 2010

Each and every year, the Bank Street College of Education puts out a listing of the best books for that year.  Not long ago, their 2010 list came out.  You can find it here, organized into these divisions:

I haven’t had the time to comb  through the entire list just yet.  I’m looking forward to discovering some new treasures, but some sections weren’t loading when I wrote this up.  Still here are some of the great books that I found:

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani.  When people ask me if I like biographies, I always say no unless I know they are also talking about kids  books.  Why?  Because I adore this bio.  Pick it up and see what a biography could and should be.

Into the Deep: The Life of Naturalist and Explorer William Beebe written and illustrated by David Sheldon.  This was another biography that hooked me from the start.  Seriously, writers for adults could learn a thing or two from the picture book set.

Houndsley and Catina: Plink and Plunk by James Howe, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay.  I adore this series for their gentle stories and was pleasantly surprised to find my son curled up reading this one.  “Good book,” says Mr. Eleven-year-old.

Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret.  I haven’t read this one but she is one of my son’s favorite authors.  He has read every one of her books that is owned by his school library.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brett Helquist.  Not only did this one hold me from start to finish, it made me delve into Norse mythology, a topic I’ve never been more than vaguely curious about.

Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams.  I remember talking to Suzie when she was writing it.   Pick it up for a great read!

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner.  I’m not really into dark fantasy (I say although I seem to read quite a bit) but this one pulled me in and kept me up late reading.  My poor room mate didn’t mind too much — fellow writers tend to understand.

Gateway by Sharon Shinn.  Sharon is one of those authors whose characterization is simply amazing.  She makes me feel that I know these characters, what they look like, what they would eat for lunch.  But when I go back to find out how she weaves the details together, I’m always surprised by how sparse they are.  She pulls the reader in and lets them fill things in from their own experience.

Take a look at the  lists.  I’m sure you’ll find something you can’t wait to read.


Feed Your Writing: Take a class if you can

Looking for something to get you in gear where your writing is concerned?  Consider taking a class.
I thought of this because my friend Anya Achtenberg teaches a class called Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction. The class is through and starts June 15th.
I haven’t taken a writing class in ages and I am so tempted to sign up.  I won’t.  I have four deadlines this month and school is out.  But I’d love to take this.  I interviewed Anya when I wrote an article on drawing on your life to feed your fiction and was amazed at her insight.  In fact, the interview was how Anya and I met.
Anya impressed me as a deeply intuitive teacher and writer and I know I’d benefit from the class.  Anya also teaches workshops on writing for social change.  I’m a bit jealous of those of you who can sign up.
Not that I’m whining about my summer time with my son.  Our tennis game is improving — it actually looks a bit more like tennis and a bit less like fetch with two people and no dog.  And he’s writing his own story.  Where many adult writers fear critique, he asks me to read each day’s writing as he finishes.  He has grown up commenting on my writing so he seems to welcome at least gentle feedback.
Instead of a writing class (sigh), I’ll have to fuel my writing with a few how-to books.  At the moment, Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic is sitting on my shelf as is Jack Bichham’s Scene and Structure.
Even in the busy, heated days of summer, take the time to feed your writing.

June: Goals, goals, goals

Apparently threatening to alter my goals was just the encouragement  I needed to get myself writing — I managed to clock in 7199 words last week.  Hurray, me!

It didn’t hurt that I had an article due to my editor at the Institute of Children’s Literature.  I also got some work done on my article for WOW, due later this month. The boys also went to a Scouting event for two full days.  Two full days of writing and crocheting.  Bliss.

I’d like to think that I’ll get just as much done this week but it isn’t likely.  We have a wedding Saturday and I won’t have any time on my own.

I do  plan to get my blogs written although this one is late.  In the summer, deadlines have to take priority.  Sorry!

And I need to finish the bio that I am working on but that won’t add to my word count.

I will work on two more articles on writing.  I’d like to think I’ll get some time for picture book writing, but I suspect that will have to wait until next week.  Fingers crossed!


The Shepherd’s Grand-daughter by Anne Laurel Carter

On  May 5th, I blogged about “Presenting Controversial Situations to Child Readers” and the book The Shepherd’s Grand-daughter by Anne Laurel Carter.  My apologies for not getting back to this sooner.  I had just started reading the book when I looked at the calendar and realized that I had to get the book club selection read NOW. Unfortunately, that means I didn’t get back to The Shepherd’s Grand-daughter until yesterday.

I say unfortunately because I stayed up until 1:16 finishing the book.  Shame on you Anne Laurel Carter!  Depriving another writer of her sleep.

Those who want to censor the book should read it first.  The whole book.  From cover to cover.  I say this because it is clear that they haven’t.  One objection that I saw repeatedly was that the first Jewish person the main character meets is a soldier who shoots one of her sheep.   Anyone who states that has not read the book.


Or they have really bad reading comprehension.

The person who shoots the sheep is not the first Jewish person she encounters.  Secondly, he isn’t  a soldier.

Still, I can see why would-be censors are upset.  Israel does not come off looking particularly good in this story, but fact is fact and this does not represent one of their shining moments.

Carter gives a very balanced account (see my review here for more info on the book itself) and this book is an excellent example of how to deal with potentially volatile topics.  Depict realistic characters on both sides of the situation.  Show positive traits in your antagonists.  Show negative traits in your protagonists. Otherwise — create realistic characters.  You’ll still have to defend your work but you will have created a book that gives young readers something to think about and shows that you respect their abilities to consider both sides of even the most complex situations.

So, fellow writers.  Do you dare take the plunge into a controversial topic?


Limber Up Those Hands

Lately I’ve had a minor hand problem — I say minor because it hasn’t required medical treatment.  I had a job that required a lot of mouse use at the same time that I was reading a lot of e-books and got a new computer game for Mother’s Day — even more mouse use.

Fortunately, school is out for the summer so I don’t have time for e-books or game time.  I am again reading paper books that I can take along to someone else’s activities.  And when I’m on the computer, I’m writing, writing, writing.  Or formatting, which does require the mouse.

Because what little time I have on here has to be productive, I’m also super aware of how my hand feels and I’m taking time to stretch, s t r e t c h, s   t   r   e   c   h.   Here are some tips on keeping your hands healthy.

The hand stretches are brought to you by Berroco knits.  Obviously, crafters use their hands as much as do computer users although I have to say that crafting (knitting and crochet) does not tend to bother my hands.  Still, as my doctor says, stretches are always good.  The stretches are also part of a product endorsement.  I know nothing about the product and just want to help keep your hands healthy.

When I was reading All Freelance Writing, I found links to a series of desk yoga videos.  Here is the one on your hands and shoulders.  Wow.  Did that feel good!

I’ll give you the others throughout the next several weeks.  I’ve found that more than one video link per post seems to bog things down or simply refuses to load.  I also hope you will take the time to try these out but don’t expect you to do 5 videos while reading this one little message.  So, try out these stretches for now and I’ll give you more later.



So what am I working on anyway?  The  week before last, I missed my goal. And last week?  No better.  Only  3660 words in 6 days.

But they were 3660 really good words.

I’m going to go one more week before I see if I need to adjust my weekly goal.  I’m just wondering how practical my old goal is with school out for the summer.  ::shrug::  We shall see what we shall see.

I do have three articles due this month and I really want to finish the family history freelance job, the latter of which is part of my word count problem.  I’m scanning photos and doing lay out.  Not writing.

Ah, well.

I do want to make serious progress on two picture books this month too.  With those 6 things to do, I should be getting some writing done.  6000 words/week?  That remains to be seen.

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!   Our tennis is starting to look a bit more like tennis and a bit less like fetch with two humans and no dog.