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 .

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!