I'm not new to talking, sharing ideas, or stating my opinion, especially stating my opinion! After all, I taught elementary school for 30 years! However, my audience has typically been smaller,just family, the classroom, or just talking to myself!

My blog has two goals: be an outlet for sharing thoughts on writing children's books and the path to publication (got my fingers crossed that I'll get there) and a place to chronicle my journey of losing my sight. Sometimes I imagine these two paths will overlap .

Friday, December 17, 2010

Write From the Soul

Atlanta (and much of Georgia) just had an ice storm.

Our winters are mild compared to the North- coming from Michigan, I have the right to say that. 

We usually get one "snow storm" (2-5 inches) a season and maybe an ice storm (black ice). These cause great drama and trauma in Georgia because our snow removal system is 2 men and a broom! Just kidding, our snow removal includes some salt but mostly gravel. Now whoever came up with the gravel idea obviously never lived in the North! Gravel just makes snow gritty and tracks into your house! And you still have snow and/or ice to contend with. Grrrr...

 Anyway.... the ice and cold made me think about my upcoming trip back to Boston to visit with family. And the family tradition we've started. 

My sister and brother-in-law have a 
rental property near Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. (Shameless plug here...it sleeps 10 people, is beautiful, close to skiing and hiking when it's not winter and is available for rental all year, just contact me and I'll connect you to the right people.) 

We are Jewish and don't celebrate Christmas and it seems that most folks who do celebrate Christmas, like to stay at home or near family, rather than go skiing over the holiday, so the condo remains available at that time. Of course everyone wants to rent it over New Year's apparently. Sorry, I digress. 

Our tradition has become to take the family, and the nephews bring a friend, to New Hampshire over Christmas. As much as I DON'T love the cold, snow, bulky clothes of winter, I DO enjoy this respite getaway. 
There's a large fireplace, big windows overlooking mountains, pine trees, and of course, snow. Let the others go skiing; Mom and I stay in and read. It's great, it's peaceful, it's our tradition. 

Sometimes, we  spend part of Christmas Day at the movies. We used to find one movie that we all could see, but as the nephews got older, our "tastes" became more diverse. 
Last year, the guys went to one movie and the girls to another. We were at the same theater complex though and went to dinner afterward together. We  go out for Chinese/Thai food- the only restaurant in the small town open that night- along with the rest of the community.

Family traditions make wonderful memories. What are your family traditions during this holiday season?

In case I don't make it back to the blog before the end of the year, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Write From the Soul

Okay, okay....... it has been awhile since I posted.  
How do I feel about that? This probably covers it....

     oh, and this.

I just have been so busy finishing my nonfiction picture book, going to see family for Thanksgiving, and now preparing to go back to visit family for the nephews winter school break. My life has been busy, I tell you!

But I'm sorry. I know it doesn't matter to some folks, just one less blog to keep up with. But some of you actually wonder or worry about what's happened to this girl. So to you I apologize and say I'll do better after the beginning of 2011. 

In an meager attempt to redeem myself, here are some links to lists of the best children's books (picture through young adult) of 2010. Thanks go out to blogger buddy Cathy C. Hall  for posting these lists!

School Library Journal Best Children's Fiction 2010

Kirkus Best Books for Teens 2010

Maybe these links will give you some ideas for holiday gifts for the kids/teens in your life.  

Or maybe, you'll just use your Amazon and book store gift cards to buy them for yourself to read! (Hey, that's what I'm doing!)

Happy Holidays to all. May 2011 bring us all good health, joy, and maybe a book contract!


Sunday, November 14, 2010


Wow, days have passed faster than I realized. I thought I posted last week!

My absence is due to preparing for and now participating in a Book Festival at my local community center. The authors I've heard have been phenomenal. I especially love hearing the back stories behind their work of fiction or the research involved for their nonfiction. Last night I saw Pat Conroy! But that's for the next post.

Today I want to share a new milestone I've reached. It's one I wasn't sure I'd make for a looooooooooooong time. In fact, I didn't want to reach it for a loooooong time because it signified acceptance and a change in normalcy.

I'm talking about being glad I use my white cane. There.... I said it aloud, well virtually out loud. Even at this very moment my brain is saying "NO! Don't say glad, say you understand why you need to use it. NEVER acquiesce to 'glad!' "

But the truth is not only do I understand and accept the need for the cane, I also appreciate what it has done for me. So I must use the word 'glad' in talking about the cane.

Prior to becoming a cane-user, I needed to walk slower to prevent running into things or tripping over things. I also had to choose between looking down to avoid curbs, sidewalk dips, things left in an aisle OR look up to avoid bumping into things like SUV mirrors in a parking lot (no, I'm not in the street) or low hanging branches.

With the cane, I can safely watch ahead (up) and know that the cane will detect the things below before I trip or stumble. Now friends say, "slow down, I can't keep up!" 

Before the cane, I wouldn't consider walking outside at night without holding someone's arm. Now I'm willing to walk around because my cane is protective like someone's arm.

And as independent as I believed myself to be B.C. (before cane), I know I'm more independent now. That, my friends and readers, is a milestone accomplished! Losing one's Independence is the worst part of losing your sight....to me.
I've been teetering on the edge of feeling I'd made it, I had kept the independence, until the cane arrived. Boy, did my sense of being dependent increase! But now.....well I'm back to that feisty girl who rarely let things stop her.

Who would have thought that some graphite, thick bands, and a roller ball tip could boost my confidence. Look out, I'm coming through!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Write From the Soul

       Have you ever gone on a trip and found that it far exceeded your expectations?

       Then you'll understand when I say that my journey to Charleston, SC  last weekend to research and talk with family and friends of the late Philip Simmons (my picture book subject) was extraordinary.

I had several interviews prearranged, but the individuals I hoped to speak with were more of the if-I-have-time-I'll-meet-you or-catch-them-on-the-run variety.

They all had time.

I caught all of them on the run.

And everyone was gracious, and open, and willing to share their memories and stories with me.

Now I feel like I have a complete understanding of this wonderful and beloved man.

He was:
an observer,
a giver to all,
a cornerstone of his church and his community,
adored all children,
a man who appreciated everything in life,
and proud of his skills and craft.

I'm totally loving the writing of this manuscript! After my eye-opening Charleston trip, I have completely revamped the book. Now it feels genuine to me.

And I thank everyone (especially Rossie, Mrs. Gilliam, Ron, and Ronnie) in Charleston, including the people we met on the street who claimed Philip Simmons as a cousin, for making me feel a part of his incredible life journey.

And a special thank you to my good friend Laura who willingly drove me to Charleston with no agenda other than helping me take pictures and notes on every conversation.
Love you all!

Here's a picture of just one of Philip Simmons's gates called "The Olympic Gate." It's located in The Atlanta History Center, Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South exhibition.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Write From the Soul

      Life has been hectic. Last Thursday I left with a carload of women writers to drive to Birmingham, AL for the regional SCBWI Fall conference. The other 3 women were all signed up for a day long writers' Intensive on Friday by the keynote speaker, Darcy Pattison. I didn't sign up for the workshop but since I'm no longer a driver, I take rides where I can find them. I was sharing a room with one of my other delightful writer friends, Doraine Bennett- who was also going to the writers' Intensive. So what, pray tell, did I do on that free Friday?

I sat out on the deck of the hotel and wrote. 

Then, I went to the movies. I rarely buy food at the movies but the smell of the popcorn grabbed me and wouldn't let go, so I caved and bought some. And of course, you can't eat popcorn without something to drink. Ten dollars later (yikes!) I was ready for the movie.

BUT........ I needed to carry popcorn and a drink with only one hand. Why you ask? Because the other hand was sweeping in front of me with the white cane I now use. A dilemma, indeed.

I went over to one of the theater staff (they all look like they're about 15 years old, don't they?) and asked for some help. A very nice young man graciously offered to carry both drink and corn for me. Walking down the hall, I commented on how dark the hallways were for people with vision issues. He said he'd tell the manager. At the theater door, he asked where I wanted to sit. When I explained I needed to sit in the very back, in order to see the entire screen, he suggested we take the elevator to the top floor and not walk up all the stadium seating rows. I hope he said that because of the vision, not because he thought I was too old to walk the steps!

Did you know there were elevators in movie theaters???? I didn't. 

Once in the theater, it was very dark so he helped me find the row and seat. I thanked him and he left. As I removed my sweater and visor, I made a discovery. I was still wearing my clip-on sunglasses!!!! No wonder the hallways and theater seemed so dark. (Geez, feel much like a dummy, Gail?) But what a polite young man not to mention the sunglasses to me :-)

Saturday was the conference day - one keynote speech, 4 break-out sessions previously chosen when we registered, lunch, panel Q & A on publishing, writing, querying, and autographing books purchased there by the conference speakers. We fit all that in between 8AM and 4 PM. Oh, and I had a professional critique on my MG book. This was all followed by a 3 hour ride back to Atlanta with a different driver and friend, Cathy Hall. 

We had lots to talk about while the beneficent Mr. Hall drove. (Hey, that's what Cathy likes to call him so who am I to argue!) You see, there's a writing contest prior to the fall and spring conferences. Winners are announced (surprise) at the conference itself. And...... Cathy won 1st place in MG and YA fiction! Woo Hoo! Very exciting. Not only did she win free tuition to the next conference and a free night at the hotel, she also was invited by the senior editor who read all the entries, to submit the complete manuscript for consideration. How awesome is that! You go Cathy!!

The rest of the hecticness- is that even a word?- finishes this weekend.

I'm off to Charleston for 4 days. I'm interviewing friends and family members of a wonderful, gentle-spirited man who was a blacksmith and artisan. I'm writing a picture book about him. Many of the wrought-iron gates, fences, railings, and grills made in Charleston were made by him. I plan to go around the town and photograph them.

Who says retirees are sedentary?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Write From the Soul

 A "Peach" of an Idea

             This week a wonderful book went on sale! It's The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia by Susan R. Spain with illustrations by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. Both of these women live in our Southern Breeze region (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia) and are fabulous people!! For those of you love to share different versions of a story or song, this book is for you! Read it to your kids, your grand-kids, your nieces and nephews, your class, a neighbor's kid, or any other kid you find (just don't stalk them...it's kinda creepy).

For those of you who love to share nonfiction with kids, try   Rosa's Bus. The Ride to Civil Rights by Jo S. Kittinger and illustrations by Steven Walker, another wonderful person from our Southern Breeze region. She tells the story of the bus boycott of more than a year in Montgomery, AL and the resulting Civil Rights movement.  The best part of the book? It's about the bus and it's journey.

These are great books to buy..... and maybe next year (or the year after that)  one of my books will be available to buy as well. (fingers and toes crossed)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Write From the Soul

          I think being a writer brings out the insecurity in us. First we worry about whether we have any writing skills at all. Then we wonder if we can put enough words together to create a cohesive story. Of course, through the writing process, there's that fear we'll never finish the book.

           And then it's done.

           And then we worry.......will anyone like it? Will an agent want to represent you?

            This is where I currently am. Between that will-anyone-like-it rock and the agent hard place.

             Today, a friend and member of one of my critique groups shared her feedback with me. 
  • She called my main character a wonderful, gentle but strong boy. 
  • She said he was on a heroic journey in the story and handled it with grace. 
  • She said she read the story all the way through and couldn't put it down because she loved the character so much. 
  • She pointed out similarities I didn't even realize about the protagonist's and the antagonist's struggles.

And my heart sang. 

And now I dare to hope that the queries I'll be sending out in the next 2-3 weeks, will touch an agent's heart and make it sing as well.

 Then I can start the process over again with a new project.
Unless I get stuck thinking about publishers.....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Write From the Soul

One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read about the craft. (The best way, I think, is to keep writing, writing, and writing!)

Lately I've read about 6 word memoirs. The idea is to express important aspects of yourself, share your feelings or beliefs in only 6 words.

Not so easy for a wordy girl like me!

But I figured it's great practice for writing a book pitch. Yes, I know the pitch is 1-2 sentences. However, after you squeeze the essence into 6 words, you can always add more description, right?

Some of the samples were from kids. In fact, the suggestion was made to use this as a writing lesson in a classroom. You can read the finished short memoirs aloud and see if classmates can guess who it talks about.

The teacher in me still loves to find different ways to teach kids.....even if I don't have a classroom anymore.

Here are a few "kid samples"
        Math was made to torture me!
             Dogs are the world's best pets.
             Brother for sale;make an offer.

Here are a few about me.
        Sight is precious;use it wisely.
              Wish sweets were good for you!
              Family and friend make me smile
              No food comes close to chocolate!

So take the challenge....write a 6 word memoir about  yourself and share it with me.
It's a fun way to learn about each other :-)  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Write From the Soul

I've been out of pocket for 2 weeks while I was celebrating the Jewish High Holidays with my family in the Boston area. I meant to post, I planned to post, but I got busy and didn't post. Sorry. My bad. Didn't mean to worry anyone. Love you.....

Now I'm back and "in pocket." And boy, do I have a great contest to share with my writer friends. 

Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse  
has hit the coveted 1,000 followers !!! She is offering not only critiques but also a three month mentorship! (gasp)

She will be available for email questions, help with your blog, web site, platform, query letter, and general all-round cheerleader for your book and career. How awesome is that?!

Head on over to her blog and sign right up. NOW. Don't stop. Go do it. Now means immediately. Don't even finish this p.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Write From the Soul

          I have finally completed my middle grades book. 

I've revised it a billion times (and probably will do more revisions if I'm honest with myself). But just having the initial draft done gives me a sense of completion and permission to begin thinking of submissions.

I decided to read through some of the many writing articles I've saved to my computer [ you know, the ones we save to read when we either have nothing else to do or are trying to procrastinate from something!] and I found one that seems appropriate to now. It's from The Institute for Children's Literature. If you aren't familiar with them and don't already receive their FREE eNesletter, go right now to the web site, find 'free eNews' on the left sidebar and sign up! They have wonderful tips, encouraging articles, and many ongoing features. 

One of those ongoing features is Kristi Holl's blog based on  her book called Writers' First Aid

In the archives (May 10, 2010 to be exact) she talks about the Serenity Prayer For Writers. I think she brings up important points to remember so.....
here it is for you!

Remember the Serenity Prayer? It goes like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

How about reducing frustration with your writing life by applying that wisdom to your career? Here are some things to accept that you cannot change:
  • How long it takes to get a response from editors and agents
  • Rejections
  • Editors moving before buying the manuscript they asked to see
  • Size of print runs
  • Reviews
  • Publisher’s budget for your book’s publicity and promotion
Trying to change anything on the above list is a sure-fire route to frustration and wanting to quit.
However, do you have courage to change the things you can? Here are some:
  • Giving yourself positive feedback and affirmations
  • Reading positive books on the writing life
  • Studying writing craft books
  • Writing more hours
  • Reading more books in the genre where you want to publish
  • Attending local, state, regional and national conferences you can afford
  • Joining or forming a critique group
If you’re battling frustration and discouragement with the writing life, chances are good that you’re trying to control something beyond your control. It will make you crazy! The fastest way back to sanity is to concentrate on what you can control about the writing life.

Good things to remember, while working on your writing or your life!

Monday, August 30, 2010


And the Emmy goes to.........
         ME !!!

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it! This is amazing! I'd like to thank Retinitis Pigmentosa for finding me in a random population. Oh, and of course I'd like to thank my parents and sister for their continuous support. And I guess I should thank the Medical Assistant Schools for choosing me. I don't want to forget my followers and whoever nominated me- thanks for the honor. And last but not least, thanks to my critique and writing group buddies and my blogosphere friends who keep me writing.

What's that? You want to know what award I really won?
I'm one of the Top 25 Visually Impaired Blogs of 2010.
Woo Hoo!  (Of course, I don't actually know how many visually impaired oriented blogs are out there......I'm guessing 28?? Maybe 30? Anyway, I'm honored someone cared enough  to nominate me. :-)    

(And don't let anyone kid you, it does feel great to be a winner, not just nominated! )

Friday, August 27, 2010


       Going to the LA SCBWI conference was a first for me in several ways. Not only was it my first national writers' conference, it was my first public act acknowledging that I am a visually impaired white cane user.

       Yes, I have used my cane out in public before, but just going places with friends. This time, I used it going through the airport, I used it going to another state, I used it throughout the hotel and walking in LA. This time, it was a part of me.

I have to say it was an emotionally-challenging experience. Meeting new people at the conference, I wondered: did they see me as a blind person who happens to be an author, or did they see me as an author who happens to be visually challenged.

Tough to say..........

You see, as I made my way through the crowd of people (and there were 1,100+ of us there), some people jumped out of the way while others seemed oblivious of the cane. I tried to warn folks I was coming with the visually impaired  equivalent to a horn 'excuse me, excuse me'. That usually led an 'oh, I'm sorry' and hopping or sliding over to the side. I didn't mind the hop or slide; the one that bothered me was when someone suddenly yanked their companion out of my way. That yanking motion implied I didn't see them at all and would run right over them, or right into them. That's why I used the word 'blind' above.
                                                                              *    *    *   *    *

       Most people see me as an outgoing, verbal person. [Okay, so I talk a lot.] However, in social situations where I know few people, or in large crowds, I have a very shy side.  

       So imagine standing in a room full of strangers at a wine and cheese social, holding a plate of fruit and cheese and a cane that is long enough to look like Moses's staff. Does the word uncomfortable or vulnerable, or overwhelming come to mind? It sure did in mine.

Picture an outdoor, grassy area near a pool.This was the location of the Heart and Soul Gala. Add in long banquet tables on either side covered with steamer trays filled with taco fixings and cheese quesadillas.

Now plop down some round tables interspersed in the area, and place huge glass "vases" filled with large heart-shaped sugar cookies on the tables. Oh yeah, throw in a bar area with a long line of people waiting to be served.

Those of us with vision issues refer to this scenario as "an obstacle course."

            Now introduce fading daylight, just two large lights, one on each side that probably provide plenty of light for the normally sighted, but for me with eyes that don't adapt quickly between light and dark, it created more blindspot areas. 

       Nervous yet? Now stick me in there with a cane I'm barely comfortable using, and ask me to mingle with over 1,000 people (of whom I know about 6 personally). Oh, did I mention that a rolling tip cane is useless on grass?

Can you say emotional overload?

These are but two of the challenging times at the conference.

But you know what? 
I made it. I handled it all. 

Yeah, the emotional stress led me me to eat more than one of those large heart cookies. And I left the gala an hour and a half before it was over because the darkness became too dangerous for me. 

But my room overlooked the pool/grassy area and I could stand out on the balcony and still feel a part of the costume competition and music.

And I LOVED every minute of the conference.
Next summer, I hope to go back again. Next time, I'll be more familiar with the hotel layout.  And I will be more comfortable using my cane.

And I think an author friend of mine will also be going and she will be there to lend me a hand....  rather an arm or an elbow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Write From The Soul

Awards, Awards, Come get your award!!!!!!

 Thank you to my writer friend,  
Cathy C. Hall 
for my award. I value your friendship too! I'd send this award back to you threefold ( triplefold?, 3X?, trifold? you get what I mean!) 

I want to share it with some others who have been so supportive of me. I hope they will pass the love on too :-)

Shelli Johannes-Wells  you always have a kind word or a laugh that gets me through the tough stuff and encourages me to continue on.

Karen Strong  you write meaningful posts that make me want to comment! You also are my techno idol!

Doraine Bennett  how could we not be friends with the same birth date?!!! You are a sweet and generous friend and I'm glad we connected.

Lydia Kang  you have wonderful drawings and posts that make me laugh and think. And you welcomed me into the community of bloggers/writers with open arms.

Vicky Alvear Shecter  you have a wicked sense of humor that I love. You helped me feel connected to the writers' community during my first writers' conference when I felt overwhelmed and thought I was alone.

Hugs to you all!!!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Write From the Soul

I have been back from the SCBWI-LA conference for 10 days and am still processing all the information I got! 

How would I describe the experience in 10 words or less?
New friends.

There were many situations where the person I just met, turned out to be the EXACT individual I needed to know. Some connected to personal issues, some connected to voids in my writing I wasn't able to overcome, and some bring the promise of future books for us both.
Yep, definitely serendipity.
Now before you roll your eyes and think shades of pollyanna-ism, (is that a word? Well you know what I mean!)
let me say that 3, count em 1-2-3 other people that I just stopped to talk with on the last day ALSO used the word serendipity to describe their experience. 

Maybe the planets were in alignment, maybe my karma was good. 

Or maybe, SCBWI conferences are just magical.

All I know is I will start saving money now so I can go back again next year!

Here are just a few photos from the 4 days. Keep in mind I had to take them without flash  so they have a "soft edge" to them- okay maybe a little blurry.

Jon Scieszka (Stinky Cheese Man, Real True Story of the Three Little Pigs) Through the 4 days he talked about the need to get boys reading.

 Our Southern Breeze region members (minus one) who met for coffee and treats compliments of national SCBWI.
Lots of new friends :-)

Lin Oliver, exec. director of SCBWI and author, with me at the Heart & Soul Gala. Notice my beautiful heart covered blouse/jacket and matching purse sewn for me by a good friend Ellie.

Jo Kittinger, author and Southern Breeze Co-Regional Advisor at the Golden Kite and Awards Luncheon. She's definitely a southerner with her 2 glasses of sweet tea!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Write From the Soul

I can't tell if this is how I feel,

or if this is how I feel.

But whether it's boisterous or quiet, I am definitely thrilled to be going to my first SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles!!!!       

I'm flying to  San Diego for three days to visit friends first- a longtime bud from college days and newer friend from an online critique group- then my college bud will drive me up to LA for the 4 day conference. I feel like a kid being dropped off at camp for a first-time experience!

I'm working on the packing now. I've got the clothes laid out and although I don't have a laptop to take notes in, I do have my notebooks and pens at the ready.

Here are my goals for the conference:
1) Have fun
2) Meet new writer friends, get blog addresses and emails
3) Be inspired
4) Have fun
5) Get a little sleep (of course I'm taking a red eye back to Atlanta so I the more tired I am, the better I'll sleep on the plane!
6) Take LOTS of notes in the workshops so I can clearly share the info with critique buddies back home.
7) Possibly make connections with a few agents and/or editors
8) Have fun (did I mention this already?!)

I'll be back, and human, after Aug. 3rd so no posting until then. If you're planning to be at SCBWI - LA, and we haven't touched base yet, please let me know through a comment or by email:
g underscore handle at bellsouth dot net

I would love to plan to meet up with you for: lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks, or just a chat.

California, here I come!                                 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Write From the Soul

Today is my birthday! And of all days, your birth day should be one where you celebrate, connect with, and appreciate only things you love.

So, I want to spend time (or talk) with my family and friends, eat something sweet, write, and be around books!

Today has had many telephone and Facebook renditions of Happy Birthday,  even from former students- I love reconnecting with them and seeing the child I knew as an adult,

Lunch was spent with a wonderful friend who then gave me time to talk with a curious calico and a hungry horse nibbling my elbow.

 Something sweet came in the form of yummy homemade cookies from another friend with a mini banner on top and pop-up happy birthday letters- I love creative people!

And books... I'm going to reread some of my favorites. Have you ever read the Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence trilogy? Utterly fabulous!!!!! Nick Bantok, an illustrator in his own right, wrote and illustrated these marvelous books. The basic storyline is: Griffin, a postcard illustrator in London, receives a note from Sabine, an unknown, mysterious postage stamp designer living on a remote island in the South Pacific. She claims to know about him and his life, though they have never met. They begin an extraordinary correspondence, and courtship that the reader is privy to with actual letters in envelopes you can open within the books. Who wouldn't be tempted to read someone else's love letters??!! You begin to wonder, like Griffin and Sabine, whether they are soulmates or if it is all an illusion. I found it difficult to wait for each sequel when the trilogy first came out in the early 1990s. 

If you haven't read them, do it. It won't be wasted time. Any worries or troubles that are stressing you out, shoot, you'll forget all about them for a couple hours. It's worth it.

I'm off to enjoy the rest of my birthday!

Friday, July 9, 2010


       I can't believe a whole month has gone by since I last blogged! Here's the list of reasons why...um rationalizations...um...excuses:
  • A few days after the last post, I went to the beach for a week and we had no Internet access- we hardly had cell phone reception. ( yeah, that excuses me until about June 20th. )
  • I realized that I had to do some MAJOR writing to have my manuscript at least solidly first drafted before I leave for the national SCBWI-LA conference in order to perfect my pitch for agents. (yeah...pfftt - that's a "raspberry sound" in case you don't recognize my spelling.)
  • We had the 4th of July weekend.
  •  I'm still working on perfectly the manuscript that had to be totally rewritten after my writers' group critique.
  • I've been lazy. (Okay, that's probably the truest.) 
  •  I couldn't think of something good to write about.

Anyway, today I found something to write about.

       Since the beach trip- where I took my newly purchased white cane to practice using it- I have been using my cane more and more. I'm feeling more comfortable out in public walking with it and some friends have said, "hey, you walk more confidently now that you're not constantly watching out for stuff to trip on or bump into!"

       Today, I was out shopping with a good bud of mine. We were walking along the sidewalk of an outdoor shopping mall, heading to lunch, when a man suddenly appears next to us and says: "Hey! Have you heard the good news? God heals the blind!" Now my friend tells me he was sitting at a cafe table, talking to someone sitting with him AND talking on his cell phone when he saw us. He jumped up to come over and speak, so to me, that implies there wasn't a lot of forethought going on! This was impulse proselytizing at it's worst [and I am not a fan of proselytizing at all] but he picked the wrong cookie! This is a woman who "encouraged" her city to replace the broken-up, uneven sidewalk near her home. [got it done within 3 weeks] This is a woman who sent letters to all of the executives and Board of Directors of the local mass transit organization to "encourage" them NOT to eliminate the bus routes she needed to get around the city, and cited  the Americans with Disabilities Act. [And they did save the routes (well parts of them.]

No, that man, who thought he had a poor blind woman on his hands who would jump at the thought that a higher power would remove her vision loss, made a big mistake.

I turned to him, put my mad-teacher-face on, stuck out my finger and said, "DON'T GO THERE MISTER! DON"T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!" [it always worked well on 4th graders :-D ]

There must have been something in my face that convinced my friend to take my elbow and urge me to continue crossing the walkway, rather than let me go after him. I wanted to tell him he was being totally rude and offensive. I wanted to tell him that religious solicitations using someone's disability was not good karma. I really wanted to take my cane, which is 52 inches long, and which wasn't too far from his feet and suddenly raise it toward heaven- maybe 2 feet off the ground- and smack him where it hurts! Then I could tell him that maybe he could ask for healing too! (Yeah, I know that wouldn't bring good karma either.)

But I didn't....... because unlike that man, I have a bit of class. And while I have done some stupid things in my life, I am not afflicted with terminal stupidity. 

Let this be a lesson to all wish to proselytize to this woman. Think before you speak....or else you better wear some protection!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Write From the Soul

Contest winners!!!!

Originally I planned on 3 prizes hoping I could reach my goal of 50 followers. But my blogger buddies are soooo supportive and gave me lots of shout-outs until I've reached 61 followers! [jumping up and down, doing cartwheels- actually trying to but falling over, ouch!] In honor of my 50 +11, I added one more book prize and 10 "chocolate winners". Drum roll please.............

Winners of the Borders and Barnes and Nobles gift cards:
 (and your favorite chocolate)
             Susanne Drazic and Cheryl Malandrinos 

Winners of the books (and favorite chocolate):
             Donna McDine- Lipstick Apology
             Cathy C. Hall- Savvy

Chocolate winners:
             Lydia Kang, Janet Johnson, Beth Revis, Steena      Holmes, Angela Ackerman, Bish Denham, Katie Anderson, Pat "StableGranny", Elizabeth Dulemba, and Roland Y.

Congratulations to all :-) Please send a snailmail address and the name of your favorite chocolate to:
g underscore handle at bellsouth dot net and I'll get your prizes to you.

Thanks to everyone. ( giant hug circling all of you)        Watch for another giveaway when I reach 100 followers!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I took a big step today. I called a company that makes white canes and ordered my own. By just using the one my mobility instructor brings each session it means I only have to confront getting to the point where I need to use a cane, once a week. Having one, makes it harder to avoid.

I know myself well. I can sabotage my life without too much difficulty, and I can usually rationalize my way in or out of most decisions. So if there's something difficult to do, and I don't really want to do it, I need to narrow the parameters. That way I'm aimed toward the correct decision, not the one of least resistance.

That's why I paid for priority shipping so I'll have the cane early next week, like Tuesday. You see, Saturday next week, I'm going to the beach with a friend. That would be the perfect place and opportunity to practice using my cane. (Not actually on the beach, silly!!!) It's a small town that we can walk to from our condo. No one knows me there, thus eliminating the uncomfortable-being-seen issue and the embarrassment factor. And the friend I'm going with is one of my closest, dearest friends and one of my greatest supporters. I know she will cheer me on and revel in my accomplishments with me. It's the perfect set of conditions; the cane will be there, so I'll just have to use it.

And of course, by telling all of my wonderful blogger buddies and followers, I can't wiggle out of it :-D  (I have to be relentless with myself otherwise I adopt the attitude I heard way too often in my classroom.....do I have to??? Can you hear the whiny voice that goes with it? 

Surely the woman who took on the city of Dunwoody to get a proper sidewalk, and is taking on the leadership of Atlanta's mass transit organization to prevent removal of her much needed bus route, and handle using a cane for a week?

Do I have to???????

Monday, May 31, 2010

Write From the Soul

Last 5 days of my giveaway! Ask a friend to become a follower  Have them mention you and it means more points and more chances to win! I'm so excited that I've passed the 50 followers mark! So I've added another book prize, Newbery Honor Book, Savvy by Ingrid Law, and a few "just chocolate" winners. The more followers I have, the more giveaways I do:-) Hitting 100 will be awesome!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Write from the Soul


      All writers, I think, go through times when they feel insecure about their writing skills. (Well maybe not awesome writers like Jane Yolen or Patricia Polacco, or Mo Willems.) That's one of the reasons I like having a critique group. Even though these fellow writers are telling me things that need to be improved in my story, they're doing so because they want my writing to be the best it can be. And that's a really positive, affirming place for me. It makes me want to write better.

       So, keeping that in mind, you'll understand why I'm disappointed with my local critique group. I joined this group a year ago and became the 4th member. One of the originals dropped out, and then we were three. True to my teacher, I'm-in-charge personality, I became the motivator, the reminder of meeting dates, the suggester of changes to make us more efficient and get more manuscripts worked on in our monthly meeting. I even brought 3 more people into the group.

And over the past 3 months, the group seems to be collapsing.

Instead of 6 people showing up, it was 4. One month, it was just 2 people. Is it me???????????????  Doesn't anyone else realize how vital a critique group is for a writer?

     Or maybe, some of them are just discouraged because the writing process that leads to publication can take a long, long time. Like 4 years, or 6 years, or more. I've been writing for 3 years now and I'm finally at the point where I think my writing is worthy of publication. (Of course, that hasn't been verified by too many editors or agents yet!)

      Maybe my fellow critiquers are feeling insecure about their writing. There's a good reason to show up for the writers group; we can make them feel supported and encouraged.

     Or maybe, I need to find some more people to join us......

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Write From The Soul

Oh. My. Gosh!  The blogosphere has the greatest people. I asked for your help inceasing my followers to 50 by June 4th and with 3 weeks to go, I'm at 48! [doing the happy dance by my computer, now fist pumping-so glad you can't really see me!]

Thank you new friends and long time friends (I hate calling people you already know 'old friends', especially because most of you are younger than me :-D ) I am so excited to see where I end up!

 Here are some reasons why new blogger friends are great to have:
  •  You'll have more people entering your blog giveaways (and don't forget mine goes until June 4th. Find out about it here.
  • You'll have more contests/giveaways to enter yourself and here's one from Tricia J. O'Brien and from The Alliterative Allomorph 
  • Now that you have more blogger buddies, there will be more people to find and meet in person @ the SCBWI LA Summer Conference! I'm going, are you?
  •  Something you post might actually help out another person, and as a former educator, I love that idea.
  • Since bloggers usually reciprocate by following their followers' blogs, there's a wealth of, and I do mean humungous, opportunities to enjoy the creativity, talent, and knowledge of others (and maybe borrow a few ideas? Isn't that what friends do...share?)
So keep spreading the news for me, a little tweet, maybe a sidebar mention, I'm not greedy. Anything will do!