Category Archives: mixed bag

How to Recognize Value

Standard
frog on a dime color RED 1a

Illustration by Matt Faulkner

I am participating in a writing contest—You Are Enough—hosted by Positive Writer. The aim of the contest is to draft a blog post that will provide encouragement to fellow writers. Well, if you’ve ever visited Frog on a Dime, you know that’s what my hokey-pokey blog is all about. Regardless if I win, I hope this post energizes your creative spirit. (And that you find cookies in your cupboard.)

My husband likes to watch Prospectors on the Weather Channel. Prospectors  follows real, modern-day diggers of gold and gem stones. I like The Voice, a reality show/singing competition. Recently, I recognized the two shows intersect.

Prospectors endure extreme cold, looming storm fronts and other dangerous conditions to find the prize—a smoky topaz, a ruby, an aquamarine or even gold. Judges on The Voice listen to some lackluster auditions while searching for someone with golden pipes. So, the singers and the smoky topaz are treasures. That’s the obvious comparison, but there’s something more.

Were the stones beautiful while still encased in layers of limestone? I would say, yes. It wasn’t the touch of a prospector’s pick or palm that made them precious. And what about the hopefuls who appear on The Voice? It’s certainly not the judge’s ears or their feedback that make those singers amazing. The vocalists were outstanding before they ever walked on stage.

Here’s what I want you to know, my fragile little tea cups—you and your writing have intrinsic value before you receive a single word of praise. Think of all of the painters and poets who never received acclaim during their lifetimes. How sad to think they thought of themselves as “almosts” and even failures. You don’t need to have your name on a dust jacket to be a writer of worth. Interested editors or agents are simply recognizing what’s already there—like a prospector uncovering a lump of turquoise or a judge discovering a brilliant performer. Okay, okay, you make a good point. Like the unearthed gemstones or a singer’s vocal range, your work (and gosh, yes, mine) could benefit from a good polishing to bring out its true luster. But just because something can be improved doesn’t mean it wasn’t extraordinary to begin with.

Yes, I can hear the b-b-b-BUT coming. But I waaaaant an agent to love my work. I waaaant an editor to offer me a contract. I waaaaant readers to send me fan mail. Of course you do (and so do I). That kind of validation is wonderful, but remember–your work isn’t valued because it’s recognized. It’s recognized because it’s valuable–regardless. And first and foremost, you have to recognize that for yourself, my little lemon square.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. ~ Philip Pullman

 

We Have a Winner at the Frog on a Dime Summer Open House

Standard
TheSecretHeirCongratulations to Pat Trattles–you are the winner of an autographed copy of a brand new, scintillating summertime read–THE SECRET HEIRby Janice Broyles. 
Janice Broyles
Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the Summer Open House. It was lovely to hear from all of you!
_______

THE SECRET HEIR retells the story of David and the princess Michal. One lives in a palace; the other sleeps under the stars. Though they come from vastly different worlds, Michal and David are drawn together. When King Saul uncovers David’s secret and vows to kill him, Michal is torn between her love for her father and feelings for David. Two kings, two men she deeply loves but for different reasons — one heart-broken in two.

THE SECRET HEIR is filled with drama, romance and intrigue for older teens, young adults and beyond.

Published by Heritage Beacon Press, THE SECRET HEIR was released on July 11. You can order it from your local independent bookstore, as well as online book distributors, including Amazon.

Frog 2

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  ~ Henry James

Meet Young Writer, Miss Indiya Draw

Standard
Indiya Pic (1)

Young writer, Indiya Draw

At a recent Family Writing Night at Paragon Charter Academy, I had the honor of meeting fellow writer Indiya Draw. Indiya is a multi-talented 4th grader who not only enjoys writing, she is also an excellent basketball player. “My biggest talent is dribbling two balls at once.” (I can’t even dribble one!)

Like most writers, Indiya enjoys reading. Right now, her favorite books are from The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby series by George Beard and Harold Hutchins. “I also like Dr. Seuss because I like how tsuper diaper babyhe rhyming sounds.” (Me too.)

paragon visit 4Indiya is a writer with  a tender heart for people and all living things. Her favorite animal is the serval cat. “Because they are cute!” And if she could do one thing to make the world a better place, Indiya said, “For everybody to have a home.”

Paragon visit 3

Indiya won the Frog on a Dime Guest Spot Drawing!

Indiya likes to write because “you can make up anything you want.” Of course, having a world of options can create a challenge too. She said, “Thinking up a topic is the hardest part about writing.” All writers can relate to that, Indiya! I am confident your amazing imagination will continue to inspire you to write many more stories. (How about a story about those adorable serval cats?) Paragon visit Feb 2018

It was a pleasure to meet Indiya and her family, and all of the students and their loved ones who collaborated to create their own stories. I wish you all many more opportunities to experience the joy of writing together.

Write on!

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains. ~ Dr. Seuss Paragon visit 2

 

 

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

For the love of critiques, line edits and proofreading, what’s the difference? I mean, seriously, what is the difference?

Standard

Don’t cry, Sweet Pea. Help is on the way . . .

Welcome to Frog on a Dime

cry baby

Quick–what’s the difference between developmental editing and line editing? What can you expect from a critique? Is line editing the same as copy editing?

Not sure?

Don’t cry, my little rose bud! Help is on the way.

These explanations may give you some clarity and clear up those tears.

Manuscript critique – a critique consists of a compilation of feedback in the form of a letter (typically) regarding  pacing, flow of narrative, transitions, voice, structure and other essential elements of stylish prose. This will provide a subjective view of the strengths and current weaknesses of your manuscript. You typically do not receive comments on the manuscript itself, as with a line edit.

Developmental editing – this extensive type of editing allows you to take a birdie’s eye view of your whole manuscript. With this type of editing, you may receive feedback in the form a of lengthy, detailed letter focusing…

View original post 388 more words