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 .

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Sorry I've been out of pocket. My social activism has crept out again. The city I live in has formed a committee to develop a community-wide transit plan. When I hear "transit," I think bus service or rail service. Apparently this town thinks it means traffic, cars, roads, bike paths, and sidewalks- in that order. Oh, and then MAYBE bus service.

Can you say discouraging????

I sat and listened to the presentation, with it's emphasis on road reorganization in order to relieve congestion. I realize that many people  find that traffic congestion leads to indigestion. However, their indigestion doesn't come close to the fear I felt hearing that the leading concept, to alleviate the problem, was to replace traffic light intersections with roundabouts!                                                                           

Here's the image that popped into my head. 
A carnival or fair with a shooting gallery booth. There are the sweet, little yellow ducks moving past and customers trying to knock them down. Of course, occasionally, there's either a white duck or a brown duck that slips in. You get more points if you knock over the oddball duckie. 

In case you haven't figured it out yet, pedestrians crossing the roundabout sidewalks are the yellow ducks. Guess who's the oddball duck?????  
Try visually impaired me, or maybe someone in a motorized wheelchair.

When they asked for questions or comments, I raised my hand. I said I realized the community was primarily a commuting community, and I was all for an environmentally-friendly place with bike paths and plenty of sidewalks. But I wanted them to know they were leaving out a portion of the community, those individuals who relied on wheelchairs and were visually impaired, such as myself. I stated for the record that roundabouts are dangerous for pedestrians with disabilities. I further said that the purpose of a roundabout was to keep the traffic flowing or moving and eliminate congestion. Cars turning off the roundabout wouldn't be happy to slow down for "normal" pedestrians so why believe they'd stop for those with disabilities? I mentioned that I practiced crossing streets at one of those intersections, with a sighted instructor and my white cane. On two, count them, 1, 2 occasions, cars turned in front of me WHILE I WAS ALREADY IN THE CROSSWALK WITH MY WHITE CANE EXTENDED!! On both occasions, I had the green light, not a yellow one and it had just turned green. These people were not paying attention; they were in a hurry, and I bet they were probably on a cell phone. 

If my instructor had not grabbed my arm- you see, mobility training when you still have sight needs to be done with your eyes closed; try that in a busy intersection to feel REAL fear- I would have been hit. I decided right then the next time a car pulls out in front of me while I'm in a crosswalk, I'm picking up the cane and smacking it on the hood or trunk of that car. The driver needs to feel some fear as well.

Anyway, back to the planning meeting...
The presenter acknowledged my point, which was followed by a brief discussion in which he stated  the intersection I was referring to was actually NOT one where they'd recommend a roundabout. (Big woop, that doesn't quell the danger at other intersections being considered.)

As the meeting ended and the audience was invited to look over the display boards outlining suggested changes, first a woman and then a man came to me and stated they were from local newspapers, one just online, the other in print as well as online. They wanted to quote me by name and asked for my phone number or email if they needed further information. You bet I gave them the info and said I was always willing to give them an opinion.

A quiet activist I'm not. Standing up for myself, and others, is important to me. I'm not thrilled about having a disability. Okay, in truth, it stinks sometimes. But if I have to deal with it, acknowledge it, live with it, I expect to have all the same rights and privileges as any other citizen in my community.

My dad, may he rest in peace, was a big believer in standing up for oneself. True, he probably was a little quieter, maybe a little calmer about it than I am. But he was not a pushover. And I know he would be proud of me for embracing this challenge and making sure my life is a full as it can in spite of it. Thanks, Dad, I feel your support. I won't back down.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Write From the Soul

If you've watched the national news in the past four days, or live in the Atlanta area, you are aware of the snow and ice that has immobilized our town. Today the temp is getting up to 40 degrees - woo hoo! - and those of us with "cabin fever" and too many bags of trash, can hardly wait to get outside and go somewhere. Okay, so maybe it's just to the dumpster or maybe to the grocery store, but it's outside my condo and that's all that counts!

I thought I'd get the "melting mojo" going with some snowman cartoons, like this one:  

and this one 


                                        also this one  

and lastly, this one.

For those of you with kids, grandkids, or students, here's a fun activity...make melting snowman cookies! (Okay you can make them just for yourself or your cabin-fevered friends, I won't tell!) Make regular sugar cookies (or use the Pillsbury ones in the rolled up can). Grab about a golfball size of dough and flatten it, not too thin- 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick- and bake. Get a microwave-safe plate, but not paper because it will stick, and heat a some marshmellows just until they start to get soft. Cover the cooled cookie with white icing and plop the marshmellow on it for the head. You can use raisins or 
M & Ms for the buttons and pretzel sticks for arms. Even easier... just make facial features, scarf, arms out of colored icing. Super easier? Get a graham cracker square, blob white icing on it, pop on a marshmellow, use darker icing to make face and arms, and color in the top of marshmellow like a hat.

Some recipes call for gingerbread cookie underneath, not my fav. Some recipes say to use malted milk balls and cover in melted white chocolate, waaay too much work for me! Some recipes took orange icing, made triangular noses, refrigerated to harden them. I say use candy if you can find it or cut a piece of carrot, OR  make a dot with the dark icing. Easy peasey.
Cookie voodoo to rid us of all the snow and ice, now you're talking!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Write From the Soul

Atlanta Kidlit Drink Night                              

Now what doesn't sound fun about that, I ask you! Combining children's literature writers, illustrators, librarians- all things kidlit- with a little libation... can I get an amen for that!

This all started when Laurel Snyder (Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher) decided Georgia folks needed a gathering like the one in New York City. I think it might have been an excuse to convince buddies living outside the Perimeter to come inside the Perimeter! [translation: people living in the burbs needed to venture intown].

I was psyched to go to it and grabbed a ride from a blogger buddy going. My "goals" in my head were to:
     * talk with at least two new people
     * maybe give some folks my blog address, after all, we love to have others reading our posts, right?
     * enjoy some libation- couldn't list this one first!

Why, you're saying to yourself, is this fool setting goals for a social event? Fair question. The truth is as much as I wanted to go, I was very nervous about actually going through with it. I'm not always comfortable around strangers or new places since I have vision issues. I can be introduced to someone but due to the dim lighting, I might not recognize them 10 minutes later. I also knew I'd need to take a taxi home. Every try telling a dispatcher where you're located when you've never been in the neighborhood? Or try telling them to have the cabbie find you, a woman with a white cane. Just a tad anxiety-provoking, so giving myself "goals" is a way to encourage me to follow through.

I was delighted to see writer buddies , Vicky A. Shecter, , and Cathy Hall , and Elizabeth Dulemba there, soooo much easier when you know people! I met Laurel Snyder, her friend Kathy, a librarian, Tanya, Tony, Lauren, Mark,and Sally, while in dim lighting and a small space. Yeah, first goal accomplished. I even managed to share my blog and web site - goal #2, go Gail. And that beer helped ease the nerves. Three for three, yay me!

Here are a few snaps I took too.

You know, it was actually fun. Maybe I'll go to next month's gathering too!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Write From the Soul

Happy New Year Everyone!!!   

Now that we've made it through the holiday season, it's time to settle back into a calmer pattern of "normalcy." Well, maybe normal isn't the perfect word for it, but it is time to move onward.

Heading into January often includes those dreaded resolutions for the new year. Some of them seem to find their way onto the list every year (lose weight, exercise more, organize the house) because we want to do them. Yet somehow, they never get done, or we fall short of the goal. I don't know about you, but that just has a way of making me feel bad about myself rather than helping me improve. So this year, I'm only writing things that either: A) I know I can accomplish and WILL accomplish, or B) are reasonable and purposeful even if I only accomplish a portion of them. 

Here we go. Oh, and the reason for announcing them publicly? 
It keeps me from weaseling out of doing them- I'm good at the rationalizing and avoidance thing- and I firmly believe in the power of positive expression. Putting positive thoughts out in the Universe brings that positivity back to you. And I'm a big fan of positivity as a means to Heal the World.

So, the list. 
1. Blog more regularly. 
If I want to stay connected to the kidlitosphere, I need to participate in it. Blogging is the simplest form of that. This also includes responding more to comments left on my blog- sorry I'm not so good at that.
2.  Go to at least one writers' conference and try to attend one I've never been to before.
3. Begin and hopefully finish at least 2 writing projects. 
That means 1st draft, working it through critique groups, and revisions. I'm thinking a picture book and a middle grades book.

Seeing a trend here? Lots of goals for writing, yes, but also do-able. Okay back tot he list...

4. Read at least 4 writers' craft books. These could be books on developing plot, writing query letters to agents, creating better dialog, or promoting yourself and your writing.
5. Enter a manuscript in a contest. 
I really shy away from this because I'm sure I'll never win or place. Not. A. Positive. Attitude. This year, I send one in.
6. Send a dozen query letters out to agents. 
I'd really like to find a literary agent this year. But in keeping with my statement about making resolutions purposeful and do-able, sending out those queries is the means to the end. Without querying, the agent is never obtained.

Okay, that's plenty for the writing side. Now for the more personal goals.

1. Eat healthier with the goal of lowering my A1C number.  
This is the diabetes indicator and I was classified as "pre-diabetic" for 2 years then had a period of time this past year when I became diabetic. Hate. It. I'm back down into the 'pre' category but would like to get down into the No-diabetes category......and soon.
2. Make a new friend. 
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing icky about the friends I have! But, for me, when I make a new friend- and I mean when you really develop that connection with someone- it feels like my heart grows a little bigger. I find that connection to others extremely life affirming for me and that's the kind of positivity I want surrounding me.
3.Find an additional way to help others. 
There are some mini and small scale things I do with regularity that help others, but the largest ways I helped out others have gone by the wayside. Service to others feeds my soul and I'm feeling a little less 'soulful' than I like to be. I'm hoping something will strike me this year. (Well, not literally strike me!)

I actually have a couple more resolutions, but they are extremely personal and I'm not willing to share them with the world just yet. I think for now, they will just stay quietly on the edge of my brain.

So, what's on your resolution list? Anything you want to share? Looking forward to connecting with all of you this new year.