Category Archives: mixed bag

choosing sides for volleyball and other curious forms of torture

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I pick you!

Welcome to Frog on a Dime

Photo by Vicky Lorencen Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Reason #10 I love going to writers’ conferences: never having to choose sides for volleyball (or softball or basketball . . . ). You see, I possess no eye/hand coordination. Zippo. My left hand is only there to make me look symmetrical. Strictly window dressing. It’s a wonder I can type. So, it’s a real load off not having to demonstrate my athletic ineptitude for the astonishment of my fellow writers. Oh, sure, authors can be strong athletes, but I’m confident a lot of us were picked last (or next to last on a good day) when choosing teams in gym class. We were out of our element and there was no competing with the real sports people.

Of course, that doesn’t mean authors don’t engage in our own kind of competition. I’m not talking about contests. It’s more about the weird competitive dynamic among writers…

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help you help me

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Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting (and waiting and waiting . . . )

Welcome to Frog on a Dime

Photo by Vicky Lorencen Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Every writer I know is a “waiter.” We wait for our muses to return from Rome. We wait for feedback from critique partners. We wait for emails from editors and agents. We wait for books to launch and reviews to post. For those of us who are pre-published, we wait (and wait and wait) for our first big break into print. Given that waiting is a given no matter where we are in the waiting room, it’s wise to find ways to use the time, well, wisely. Otherwise we’re time-twiddlers in danger of becoming solitary sadsacks. And yeesh, don’t even get me started on those pricey catered pity parties. What’s that? How do I know about pity parties? Well, uh, [insert awkward silence so long you would take a nap in it here], let’s move on.

And so, my little twice baked potatoes, to help each other whilst…

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are you lucky?

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Welcome to Frog on a Dime

dreamy frog

Recently, on an ordinary Thursday afternoon, a perceptive friend said something that gave me pause. “You’re lucky to have a dream,” she said. Hmm. I’d never thought about that before, but she was absolutely right. “I am lucky,” I said to my friend. “Having a dream is a burden, but it’s a burden I’d miss if it went away.”

By now, you know my dream is to become a children’s author. I’m working the steps, logging some encouraging signs of progress, practicing my craft and doing my part to make that happen. Still, unlike failure, which is a snap, there are no guarantees of success. That’s not an easy reality to embrace, but the thought of living dreamless would be much more difficult. My dream gives me a nudge, a sense of purpose and a life infused with a sense of expectation. Why would I disconnect from that?

A zillion.5…

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12 Ways 2 B 5 Minutes Closer to Your Dream

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Do something every day to get you closer to your dream. That was one of the first and best pieces of advice I received when I was just packing my bags to begin my writing journey. (Thank you, Ann Purmell.)

Of course, “do something” leaves ample room for personalization. Assuming you agree with the concept, you’re probably wondering how you’d find time to do something every day.

Well, in 2015 I heard Newbery winner Kathi Appelt talk about a time in her life when she was frustrated over finding writing time. A friend challenged her to write every day. Kathi said she’d try for 30 minutes daily, but her friend protested. She wanted Kathi to aim for a mere five minutes a day. Kathi was confident she could commitment to that!

No surprise, Kathi oftentimes exceeds her five minute allotment, but regardless of the minutes, the important thing is, she is doing something every day–creating momentum, a worthy habit, a dream-supporting discipline.

Being the smart little snicker doodles you are, you knew I’d challenge you next, didn’t you. I want to give you a dozen options to spend five or ten minutes each day to bring your dreams closer to reality.

  1. Interview one character from your work in progress.
  2. Order a new book on writing technique – may I suggest Kendra Levin’s The Hero is You.
  3. Compile a list of names—first or last or both together–for future characters.
  4. Read a blog post by an editor or author you admire.
  5. Send someone you appreciate a quick thank you email. It could be a fellow writer, an editor or maybe a conference speaker who encouraged you.
  6. Write one scene.
  7. Register for a retreat or conference.
  8. Read two pages of your WIP out loud or ask someone to read them to you.
  9. Tidy your desk top (either your computer desk top or your actual desk).
  10. Research a publishing house for a future submission.
  11. Type out the text of one of your favorite picture books so you can study it.
  12. Do a Find/Replace in one chapter (or five pages) to weed out your “crutch words,” e.g. just, actually, started or to root out passive voice.

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly. ~ Langston Hughes

A writers guide to raising Baby New Year

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reedWithout doubt, most of us will not think back on 2016 and heave a wistful sigh. It was a Grueler. (Not sure if that’s a word. It should be.)

Yet, it is into this mosh pit of mayhem we are about to bring a Baby New Year. And if there’s one thing we know about babies, as much as we think we know about them, those wee, wiggly love sponges possess an inherent agility for throwing curve balls.

To up our odds for raising a healthy, toddling humanette, in 2017, let’s try these three baby steps toward productivity . . .

Step 1: Brainstorm. Make a list of all the possible things you could do with your Baby New Year as a writer. The outer banks of the universe is the limit. Dream BIG. Really give it a think. (When you hear brain cells bubbling back off a tad.)

Step 2: Using your aforementioned list, select three things you’d like to accomplish as a writer with Baby New Year. (For purposes of sanity retention, I recommend selecting a large, medium and small—or a venti, grande and tall in Starbucks-speak.)

So, for example—

By December 31, 2017, I will:

  • Have a complete first draft of my current novel in progress.
  • Revise ¼ – ½ of another novel.
  • Write 12 messages of encouragement or thanks to a fellow writer (or an agent, editor, beta reader or whom have you).

Step 3: Whether you use Outlook, a phone app or ye olde paper calendar, put prompts on your calendar for each of the things you’re going to accomplish.

To elevate your chances for success, share your list with a trusted friend–a Baby New Year Sitter, of sorts, who is tough, but likely to offer treats.

Wishing you and your Baby New Year unexpected sources of delight, insight and really good cookies in 2017. Cheers! (And remember, we’re all in this together, my little malted milk balls.)

Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year! ~ Ogden Nash
 

Trick or Treat – Repeat

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Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

My little cinnamon sugar cider donuts, do I have a treat for you . . .

WILLIAM AND THE WITCH’S RIDDLE written by Shutta Crum and illustrated by Lee Wildish.

From the jacket flap . . .

“William and his little brother, Pinch, have been left alone at their home atop a mountain. When a witch named Morga shows up, William is forced to embark upon a terrifying journey, but he is also offered the possibility to save his family.

“The worst part of the journey is Morga herself. She has three riddles for William to solve, with only the help of an odd fellow who wakes up a different size every day and a tiny yellow dragon who can dream storms into reality.

“Three riddles. Three chances to lift an ancient curse. Three chances to save his family.”

This is a beautifully written middle grade fantasy. You’ll want to gobble it up like trick-or-treat sack of snack size Snickers! But you don’t have to take my word for it . . .

From Kirkus Reviews:

“There is humor, heart-stopping action, magic of many sorts, and tender emotions of sacrifice, love, and loss. Crum draws readers into this evidently white fairy-tale world with detailed, descriptive language and inventive syntax. An exciting, neatly crafted adventure.”

Doesn’t this sound irresistible? A copy of this spellbinding can be yours!

How?

Leave a comment–describe your favorite childhood Halloween costume–at the end of this post by Noon on Monday, October 24, and you will be entered into a drawing for a copy of your very own. No trick – just treat!

dsc04887October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace! ~ Rainbow Rowell

the high price of giving up

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You may not be able to calculate it in dollars, but the price may be higher than you think.

Welcome to Frog on a Dime

Photo by Vicky Lorencen Photo by Vicky Lorencen .

Have you ever wanted to quit on a dream? I have. I suspect we all have. Dreams are easy to carry when they are fresh and so are we. But they can feel burdensome once the real work begins. Little wonder we want to say “enough”!

Recently at least two of my writing friends wondered if they should loosen their grip on their dreams and let go. Can you relate? Before you make that decision, may I offer some things to think about?

Will your life be better for it–will you feel free to pursue other things–or will you miss having a dream to chase?

Can you live with the wonderings and the what ifs–I wonder what would have happened if I’d stuck with it just one more year . . . sigh.

How will others be influenced by your decision? Now, typically, when…

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