Author Archives: Vicky L. Lorencen

Some & Soon & Specificity

Standard
DSC02148

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Let me give you the truth. (And yes, you can handle the truth.) I am frustrated by the lack of progress with my Work In Progress (WIP). Perhaps calling it a SIP–Snail In Progress is more accurate. I suspect one (of the many) reasons for my slogginess is the overwhelmingness of it all. Novels are so stinkin’ big and messy and apt to misbehave at every page turn. You know? I think maybe you do, my ginger snap.

So, I’ve been on high alert for a simple way to progressively make more progress, and I think I may have landed on something–specificity.  Lemme explain.

Last week, I was at this training for my day job and one of the speakers (Dr. Don Berwick) used a catchy phrase that sent up a flare in my brain:

“Some is not a number. Soon is not a time.”

Say, that’s, why, that’s true. The doc had something there.

Then! I read this quote by the brilliant and darling Kathryn Erskine recipient of the 2010 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She said, “I don’t like the word soon because you don’t know when it’s going to sneak up on you and turn into NOW. Or maybe it’ll be the kind of soon that never happens.”

 

But wait, there’s more.

Then! I listened to this guy I “met” on Facebook. Comedian Tim Minchin addressed a graduating class at the University of Western Australia. (You should listen to the whole thing, ahem, after you finish reading my post, si vous plait. It’s really kind of brilliant.) Anyway, among his many glinty shards of wisdom, Minchin imparted this gem–“I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious.”

Is it just me, or is there a theme emerging?

You see it too? Oh, good.

adams-pumpkin-2So, let’s say you (and by you, I mean, I) want to write a middle grade novel. You need at least a good solid 30,000 words. That’s daunting. But instead of diddling (or in my case, doodling), why not passionately dedicate to the pursuit of a short-term goal?

Let’s do the math and get very specific. (I cannot believe I’m going to do math in front of you. The terror.)

You are going to write 30,000 in 6 months.

That equates to 5,000 words a month.

And that means you’d need to pump out about 210 words a day (six days a week).

That’s less than one page of writing a day. It’s specific. It’s possible. (I want to see nodding here.)

It’s not easy, but it’s a lot less scary than staring down the whole 30K.

Am I right? Yes, yes, of course. (Again with some nodding please.)

Instead of being macro-lethargic, I can be micro-ambitious–and reach my goal. I will be declared dauntless! Okay, okay, so it’s not sexy, but a declaration of dauntlessness ain’t nothin’ poo-poo.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

While I say “no” to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November (sorry, my little pumpkin muffins), I am sure the momentum it creates can be intoxicating. If that kind of specificity works for you, I say huzzah! Ever forward!

Remember, my chicken dumplings, some is not a number.  Soon is not a time. Specificity is the ticket to getting things done.

Now that you (and I) know this, let’s become micro-ambitious sometime soon, mm-kay?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

 

Why I can’t write outside my race, I think. Probably.

Standard

Frog 3This is not a how-to.

It is a thought in progress.

This longer-than-usual post is not intended to persuade you to think a certain way. I’m simply sharing my struggle. In full transparency, I do hope it will encourage you to wrestle too.

I am puzzling over the question – how can I, a middle-aged white lady, promote greater diversity in children’s literature? Further, can I personally contribute my own work?

And now my noodle is steaming. Just call me Ms. Ramen Head.

Let me get specific now.

See, five years ago a character came to me while I was at an SCBWI-Michigan spring conference. I was in a breakout session with Donna Gephart. And, this kid, he never moved out of my head.

I LOVE this guy. But as a character, he is a challenge combo (without a side of fries. Darn.)

First, he is a him, but I can handle that. I like writing boy characters best.

He chose a hobby I have no idea how to do, but I can try to learn.

And, finally, he is African American. Yep. That’s where things get complicated. I didn’t decide that about him. It’s simply part of who he is–a significant part.

Now I am capturing his story in a middle grade novel, but I’m facing a few teensy questions. Oh, you know, like:

  • If it’s okay to me to write outside my gender, why not my race?
  • Is it really necessary for this character to be African American for his story to be told?
  • Am I betraying my character if I change his race?
  • If I do write outside my race, what is the potential for causing more harm than good (even with the benefit of sensitivity readers)?
  • If my book is published, what happens when I show up at a school with primarily African American students?
  • As an un-established author, am I prepared to face the elevated scrutiny my story will receive?

To go even deeper . . .

Executive Editor at Dutton Books for Young Readers Andrew Karre posed these questions at a recent SCBWI conference:

  • How diverse is the well of literature I draw from?
  • Why do I want to write a diverse character? In other words, where are the roots of my desire to write this character?
  • Is my only point of engagement with diversity limited to my manuscript?

In the end, all I want to create is a story that’s authentic and engaging. Most of all, I want this kid I love to be proud of the way I told his story. I think I can best do that without pushing myself to do things that will quite potentially hurt my readers and distract them from the story I want to tell. And so, since I have decided not to write outside my race, I think. Probably. I am asking:

  • How can I offer a diverse perspective in a way that’s true to myself?
  • How can I support diverse authors and diverse books?
  • How can I expand my understanding of all that diversity means?

Here’s the part I do know:

  • There’s clueless. That’s sad.
  • There’s clueless about being clueless. That’s dangerous.

I’m “pleased” to say I know that I’m clueless about a lot of things related to diversity, and really, that’s not the worst place to start. It means I need to be humble, and willing to learn, listen and ask questions. That I can do without question.

Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Won’t you join me, my little Caramel Apples?

If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained. ~ Neil Gaiman

 

 

48 of the most important hours in a writer’s life

Standard

Because your first responder needs to know about this . . .

Welcome to Frog on a Dime

Doodle by Vicky Lorencen Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

There are a plethora of important days in a writer’s life. (Pardon my use of plethora, but it’s such a keen word.) But, in my book, there are 48 hours that stand out from the rest. They are far from the most fun, but a lot hinges on how we choose to handle them.

Day 1 – The First 24 Hours at Ground Zero

You receive a rejection letter or slam into a serious setback. I know there are some who say it’s best to roll with it. Rejection is knit into a writer’s life and there’s no point becoming unraveled by it. I commend you for your ability to be cavalier, but I can’t manage it myself. The times I’ve tried only came back to chomp me. Stuffing the sadness caused tears to erupt at the oh-so-wrong times, so I’m better off taking 24 hours to wallow and be a wreck.

View original post 534 more words

mindfulness and the writer’s mind

Standard

If you don’t mind . . .

Welcome to Frog on a Dime

Photo by Vicky Lorencen Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You’ve heard of mindfulness, yes? Okay, so maybe you’ve “heard” of it, but your understanding is a tad fuzzy. If I give you a link to a delightful introduction via the lovely Anderson Cooper, can I trust you to come back to Frog on a Dime to read the rest of this post? Oh, you know I can never deny you anything. Okay, my little gum drop, have a look.

You’re back! [Trying not to look surprised] So, this mindfulness-ness thing, now you know it’s really about being aware, about being present–about being. Am I a pro at that? Oh, you little snickerdoodle. You do know how to make me chuckle. All I know is practicing mindfulness is a good, life-enhancing thing that I believe can and will enhance my writing (and yes, yours, too).

I came up with a squatty list of ways mindfulness may do…

View original post 189 more words

17 Things I Want to Remember Not to Forget After I’m Published

Standard

signsClinging to the assumption I will one day be published, I am proactively compiling a list of things I want to remember not to forget once the dream toggles to reality. For safekeeping and future reference, I am storing my self-reminder stockpile here.

And sure, you can read them, if you want, my little twice-baked potato.

Vicky, when you become published . . .

  1. Remember not to complain about advances or book signings and other such publishing blah-dee-blah in front of writers who are pre-published. Reflect on what it was like being left out of the conversation or feeling resentful hearing those complaints. For the love of F&Gs, do not be a Diva McWhinypants.
  2. Remember to remain thankful when parts of the publishing process fail to measure up to what you thought they would be. Behind every delicious meal there’s a messy kitchen. You need to embrace both.
  3. Remember writers write. Just because you’re published now doesn’t mean you get to slack off.
  4. Remember to say thank you humbly without pushing away the compliment (should you be so lucky to receive one). You don’t want the person praising you to feel stupid for liking your work.
  5. Remember you are not the first person on the planet to get published. Other important things are going on in the world that have absolutely nothing to do with you or your book.
  6. Remember to give back – to your local SCBWI chapter, to your local library and to your beloved cheering section.
  7. Remember to be sensitive to those who will find your good news bittersweet. You know how hard it was to act all mature and supportive when your insides were turning to macaroni salad over someone else’s big break. Do not apologize for your success, but aim to keep your relationships balanced—it’s not all about you. Even if your friend is trying to pretend like she’s cool with you talking about every interaction with your new editor, give her some air. She can be genuinely happy for you and still hate your guts for a while. Remember how that felt? Your friend is smart and she will process this and you two will be okay. Just don’t push for it to happen. Be cool.
  8. Remember “your” book was a total team effort. Remember to acknowledge the epic efforts of your agent, editor, art director, copy editor, publisher and marketing team who went all in to make your book real.
  9. Remember to let it really soak in. Being a debut author is a big deal and while you hope to publish many more books, this is the one that changed everything and will probably be the most celebrated, so don’t save the party for the future.
  10. Remember not to hover over Amazon ratings and Goodreads reviews. Do you hear me?
  11. Remember no one is obligated to like, much less buy, your book. Do you like everything that’s in print? Okay then.
  12. Remember not to be shocked or disappointed when your launch day comes and the world looks pretty much like it did the day before. Your book will probably not be the first thing people think of when they roll over and hit the snooze button. Crazy, right?
  13. Remember you are still going to deal with rejection, the emotional roller coaster and disappointment.
  14. Remember once you have an ISBN, people will tend to give more weight to your “wisdom,” but don’t let that buckle your common sense. If you don’t know the answer to a question, let’s say on a panel discussion, it’s okay to say I’m still learning and defer to someone with more knowledge.
  15. Remember what people told you about second books and how it can make you freeze up out of fear it won’t measure up to your first book. That’s normal. Thaw out already.
  16. Remember it’s okay to say no. You don’t have to talk to every school group or travel to the far-reaches of Arewethereyet to speak to a five-person book club. You still need to protect time for writing, friending and other -ings.
  17. Remember to set your sights on a new dream. Your first book is not a finish line, it’s the starter pistol.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. ~ William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Congrats to the Summer Open House Super Giveaway Winner!

Standard

Frog 5Congratulations to ANGELA VERGES, winner of the Summer Open House Giveaway. You will receive your very own autographed copy of Kelly DiPucchio‘s brand new picture book SUPER MANNY STANDS UP! (Angela, please send me your address via the Contact Me page. Then, watch your mail box for your special delivery!)

SM_Cover_V2_03

Atheneum Books for Young Readers (July 4, 2017)

Many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. Your kind comments were so encouraging. If you included a quote with your comment, you’ll find yours on Frog on a Dime’s new Worth Repeating page. Thank you for sharing!

Special thanks to Kelly for visiting Frog on a Dime, sitting down for a chat and gifting our lucky winner with your book. You are one super lady!

Wishing each and every one of my sweet petunias a splendid summer!

Visit Frog on a Dime any time. You’re always welcome.

 

Come on in! Summer Open House Presents Kelly DiPucchio & Super Manny! Giveaway

Standard

ALP_9859

My little sparklers, the first time I met Kelly DiPucchio we were at an SCBWI – Michigan conference many years ago. Kelly was wearing a feather boa (not exactly standard issue for children’s writers!) and I thought, “Who is this amazing person?” There are many ways to answer that question–Kelly is a prolific New York Times bestselling picture book author. She is a creative, thoughtful and kindhearted woman. And best of all, Kelly is my friend. I could not be more delighted to have her join us for Summer Open House 2017.

Today, July 4, is the birthday of Kelly’s newest picture book is SUPER MANNY STANDS UP!

SM_Cover_V2_03

Atheneum Books for Young Readers (July 4, 2017)

“This charming story marries the mania for superheroes with a potent anti-bullying message, making it an apt tale for present times. Super Manny, an imaginative raccoon child…declares out loud to the world his own fearlessness and strength in words that children will want to echo…. With great read-aloud potential, this story could be used by both parents and teachers to introduce concepts of courage and standing up to bullies from the youngest preschoolers up.” (Kirkus Reviews, May 2017)

Watch this super SUPER MANNY trailer!

You can enter for a chance to win your very own copy of SUPER MANNY to enjoy yourself or share with a beloved child in your life.

  • All you need to do is leave a comment at the end of this post!
    • Leave a favorite quote to add to the new “Worth Repeating” page, and you’ll get two chances.
    • AND if you become a new follower of Frog on a Dime, you’ll get three chances to win!

Drawing takes place Saturday, July 8 at Noon. 

Lemon sliceSince Kelly was kind enough to stop by for the Summer Open House, how could I resist offering her a seat on the Frog on a Dime porch swing for some lemonade and conversation?

What role has mindfulness and/or intuition played in your writing career?

Mindfulness has played a tremendous role in my writing career and life. I could tell you many stories about how different meditation practices have inspired new book ideas and even completed manuscripts in one sitting. I’ve come to learn over the years that meditation doesn’t mean you have to be in a lotus position on the floor with sandalwood incense and white candles burning. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that and I, myself, enjoy creating those sacred spaces occasionally before I write but I can also create mindfulness by taking walks in nature or sitting in the sun or even folding clean laundry (definitely my least favorite).

What is your favorite day of the week–and yes, why?

Okay, probably only writers and artists will understand this but MONDAY. Mondays mean I’m getting back to my routine and there’s something very empowering and hopeful about having the full week ahead of me so I can get things done. Usually, by Friday, I’m lamenting about how much more I should have gotten done that week!

I know this is rather personal, but what is under your bed?

A few wayward socks (see Question #10), an empty suitcase, stray dryer sheets, a peaceful colony of dust bunnies, a flashlight and copies of A Course in Miracles and Autobiography of a Yogi (for good energy).

Who makes you laugh the most?

A few years ago, I definitely would have answered, “My husband!” However, now I’d have to say my son is closing in on a tie for first place. My husband and I take pride in the fact that we’ve birthed and raised some very funny people.

If you were a cheese, what kind would you be? Why?

I’d probably be Swiss because I’m pale and holy.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

My kids. I know that sounds incredibly hokey and cliché but nothing else in my life can even come close.

Kelly, now be honest, kind of music feels like torture to you?

Heavy metal. That answer should not come as a big surprise to anyone who knows me because I will openly admit to loving Barry Manilow.

What is your inner adult/inner child ratio?

50% Adult. 25% Child. 25% Dog.

If you could make a guest appearance on a sit com, which one would it be–and why?

Probably Modern Family because I love the cast and the show.

Describe your sock drawer in three words or less.

Messy. Mismatched. Merry.

If you hadn’t become a writer, what would you be?

A totally different person.

Your favorite punctuation mark: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Favorite food or drink while writing: Coffee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fantasy road trip destination:

Well, you can’t get there by road but my inner compass keeps pointing me in the direction of Ireland. Cross my pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers I will get there one day!

Kelly, thank you so much for stopping by. I think you’re super!

And best o’ luck with Ireland!

Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind. ~ Roy Bennett

Frog 3