Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Diversity?

Photo by Jon Bunting

A Rural Upbringing

In my writing, I tend to include people of different cultures and skin colors. This is important to some people. Others don't see the value in it. I will explain, based on my experiences, why I do this. I'll admit this was  kind of a hard post to write.

Just before third grade, my family moved to a white, rural community with a lot of people whose families had lived in the same area for generations. I don't remember much from before that other than a few friends and experiences. My true memory of childhood is from age seven onward in this rural community.

Photo by Rafael Sato

Being Different

The other kids at elementary school taught me something: Different is Weird and Weird is Bad. Perhaps "showed" is more accurate because this was never anything that needed to be said aloud.

Different could mean any number of things. For example:

  • Poverty - the poorest kid smelled funny and had bad clothes and was teased. A lot.
  • Outsiders - I was new to the school and liked weird things like books. I was pretty quiet and never fully accepted at my elementary school. (By junior high when the schools merged, it was just my awkwardness that held me back.)
  • Religion - there was small, religious minority in my area (none of the ones that immediately come to mind). They dressed differently, had weird hair, and were vegetarian. My family was friends with one of these families, and when I was a kid, I was embarrassed to be seen with them.
  • Skin color - this one's harder because I don't remember meeting a single kid with a skin color different from mine until junior high. When I saw this kid in the hall, I remember trying not to stare. I only had stereotypes and movies to tell me who this kid was, where he came from. By this point, I knew he wasn't likely to come from some inner city or whip a gun out in the middle of junior high. I wasn't completely out of touch. But there was an underlying sense of wariness that felt instinctive.


That wariness came from a complete lack of exposure to people who didn't look like me. I was raised in a monolith, so there was a whole lot in this world that was weird to me.

My goal in writing diverse characters is to help kids feel like people who are different from them are their friends (or maybe enemies, depending on the character). But that these are real people who could be the person right next to them. I think that's important.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Oh My!

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late for this very important date.

And so what you get today is one of my favorite little works of art that I painted several years ago: 
Because everybody needs a little dragony goodness in their day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thank you, Hillary. Sincerely.


I typically try to avoid waxing political on my social media. But this election has affected me more than I thought it would.

I thought Stephen Colbert's very a-political send-off on election night was quite beautiful and encouraging, and I realized there's not been enough positive in this election cycle, so I wanted to add something positive too.

I'd like to note I did not vote for Hillary because she was a woman. If that was my motivation, I wouldn't have voted for a man in the primaries. I voted for her because, of the two candidates, she better represented the direction I wish my country to take. But, as a woman, I appreciate what Hillary has been to us. And I think history will too.

So, today, I am going to thank Hillary Clinton.

Photo by Alan C.

With all my Heart:

Hillary, thank you for helping to pave the way for women in American politics.

Thank you for being our first major party contender for President.

Thank you for never giving up, no matter how much vitriol was thrown at you, no matter how many people commented on your looks, your clothes, your hair. No matter how much some people doubted a woman could do the job.

Thank you for being steadfast, for being you in the face of all that doubt.

Thank you for being gracious and smart and stubborn as hell.

Thank you for the work you've done for America's kids.

Thank you for pushing past all of the critics who thought you should be a dutiful wife and nothing more.

Thank you for sharing your story, for living your life. For showing us what it was like to be a female law student in the '70s.

Thank you for giving little girls a woman who they could point to and say, "I want to be like her," even if that statement does end with, "But I want to win." Because, Hillary, you have helped make that possible.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Christmas Pumpkin


I know I'd mentioned a photo-story about Nigel and a stick, but that'll have to wait for another day because this weekend Nigel and I carved our pumpkins, and new is always more fun to show off than old.

carved christmas pumpkin

Since Halloween is over and done with, I chose to make a Christmas Pumpkin. In case there is any confusion, the thing off to the left is a fireplace with two stocking and a candle on the mantelpiece. Apparently one of Nigel's coworkers (who obviously has a rather morbid imagination), thought it was a Nativity on fire.

I think it looks more like an oddly unhappy Halloween face (with the stockings as eyes), but such is the way of art - people will see what they want to see.

one-eyed monster

Nigel went for the more traditional Halloween pumpkin - the one-eyed monster. I thought it looked a bit like Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc, but apparently that wasn't quite what Nigel was going for. He could see it, though.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

An Autumnal Adventure

Autumnal Nigel, Leaf shirt
While we hiked, Nigel spent a good 5-10 minutes trying to pin this leaf to his shirt.
He stuck the stem through a threat in his shirt.

Next week, I intend to tell a tale of Nigel and his friend, The Stick - if I'm feeling ambitious and if my pictures of the Stick Rescue came out okay. This week, however, is devoted to the pretty pictures I took at World's End State Park. Because those pictures deserve their own blog post.

We started the day bright and early.
Neither of us could sleep.
The views on the way there might have been the best of the trip.
Nigel took photos as I drove.

Note: we did have the camera set to "vivid" or something of that nature, so perhaps some of the colors are a little out there, but they're still quite representative of this park on a bright, Fall day.

Autumnal town
A town along the way.

Fall in the mountains
I feel a little silly with all these driving photos, but this doesn't even do the view justice.

red backpack, fall forest
I took this photo!
It's a Nigel.

World's End State Park, fall, forest
Alright, the views from our hike were quite pretty too.

World's End State Park, Autumn
Approaching one of the park's two, big views.

World's End State Park, Autumn, Mountains, View
The view itself.

World's End State Park, Autumn, forest, rock
One final, foresty photo.

Hope you enjoyed the photographic journey to World's End State Park. It's a nice place. I am busy with my writing, but there's not really much to say about it right now, so I'm sticking to the photos because they're funner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fall Foliage: World's End State Park

I've been editing a bit, keeping busy. But the truly noteworthy event of the last week was my husband and I's trip to World's End State Park. And this photo:

autumn mountains, World's End State Park, PA

And that photo is quite enough for one week. I'll share more next week, but this was the best.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In the Thick of Things

Banff National Park
I took this photo in Canada - somewhere in Banff Nat'l Park.
I don't quite remember where exactly.

My post this week will be short and sweet. Or just short.

I have yet another new query that I entered into a contest hosted by Michelle Hauck and others. I'm actually rather excited about this query. It's more lively than many of the others and helps point out what's unique about my book. I find out on Thursday if I got into the contest or not. (This contest is to help me polish my query and then put it in front of a few agents Michelle lined up.)

Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies, cold
My husband being cold on a Canadian hike.
I have the name of the place written down somewhere.
Not here, though.
This is from a few years ago.

I'm back into editing. I've set an ambitious goal of editing five chapters a week (which I failed to meet for the first week b/c I spent half of it rewriting my query letter). Now I'm in the midst of editing my YA scifi, which will keep me busy for quite a while.

So. That's what's up in my writing life. And that's about all I've got to say this week. Have a good one!