A May Wish in December

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christmas 2017 little housesMy little sugar plums, before we flop face first into holiday festivities, let me present you with a wee present. It’s a simple gift of words, wishes really, of all I hope for you this season and the new year through.

A May Wish in December

May your inner child remain your cherished friend.

May you pounce on opportunities before analysis paralyzes you.

May you run out of excuses by January 2.

May your friends’ success refine you into a world-class cheerleader.

May you believe any praise you receive as easily as you do criticism.

May you be dauntless, deliberate and delightful.

May you be your most authentic you. (Duplicates or substitutions will not be accepted.)

May you be unapologetic in your nonsense, whimsy and quirkitude.

May you be deaf to your inner critic, but alert to wise counsel.

May grace be your brand and kindness your second nature.

May fear be an energizer, not an extinguisher.

May you crave authenticity more than notoriety.

May you knock your own sweet socks off.

If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean-buyer
If you’re a pretender com sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in! 
Come in! ~ Shel Silverstein

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Congrats x 5 Giveaway Winners!

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Mr. Tarzan Malarkey and the gang down at the law firm of Starsky & Hutch have tabulated the results of the Frog on a Dime 5th Birthday Giveaway! FB Team

Congratulations to these 5 lucky winners . . .

  • Monica Harris
  • Becky K
  • Robin Korb
  • Rondi Olson
  • Angela Verges

FB BadgerMany thanks to everyone who entered, posted, re-Tweeted and shared such kind words of encouragement and genius suggestions. I appreciate you all so much, my little crescent rolls!

(Psst. Winners, please provide me with your mailing address via FB messaging or the Frog on a Dime contact page and I will get your surprise zooming your way!)

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again. ~ Lewis Carroll

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High 5! Happy 5th Birthday Giveaway!

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Can you believe it, my shiny little pomegranates? We’ve reached FIVE full years of Frog on a Dime. My desire to be an encouragement to you has come full circle over and over so many times, thanks to you, I’m a curlicue.

To thank you-thank you-thank you, I’m offering FIVE chances to win one of FIVE Happy 5th Birthday Giveaway Surprises.

Five quick-as-a-wink ways to enter:

  • Become a new follower of Frog on a Dime. (Sign up via the home page.)
  • Invite a friend to visit Frog on a Dime.
  • Comment under this post on Facebook.*
  • Like and retweet this post on Twitter.
  • Share a comment, suggestion or question on this post below.*

*Your brilliant suggestions for future post topics, your writing-related questions or nominations for guest bloggers are especially welcome.

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Enter by 5 p.m. (EST) on Monday, December 11.

I can’t wait to pass out the surprise prizes. So, hop to it!

I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ~ Ovid

(Prizes will be sent to US addresses only.)

Some & Soon & Specificity

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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.

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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

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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.

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mindfulness and the writer’s mind

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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…

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