Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wonderment and Warm Summer Winds--Why I Write for Children

Wonderment in warm summer winds--no wonder I write for children. They find joy in the simplest things.
my grandson on another day (I didn't have a camera today)

This morning I had the dubious honor of tending, and thus waking up my two-year-old grandson. (He likes to sleep in, and if allowed to do so he won't take naps). He didn't want anything to do with me at first and moped in his crib whimpering for "mama" and "daddy." Finally, I managed to convince him to come with me outside to pick raspberries. That required not only carrying him, but his elephant pillow, his teddy bear, and his singing stuffed dog. Like a clumsy clown juggling four unmatched items, I plowed out into the windy hot morning with my arms full. Being a menopausal woman, I anticipated tackling my necessary chores in the garden slightly more than stepping into a convection oven. As I laid my grandson upon the blanket I had spread beneath the far-reaching shade of the sycamore tree, I realized he was no longer fighting me. In fact, the normally fiasco-filled task of changing his diaper came off without a single wiggle. His face caught my gaze. I watched the wind whip through his white-blond hair and brush across his face, causing his eyes to blink. But those blinks were not merely a defense against the wind. From the wonderment in his eyes, his eyelids appeared to be reacting positively to a new experience. His face radiated the fascination and joy of an older child plowing through the air in his first roller coaster ride.

I went on to tackle my task of picking raspberries a little less dis-gruntled. I looked through the eyes of my grandson and felt a renewed appreciation for Mother Nature; Her variety and beauty in all that She does. I felt a confirmation to my soul of why I enjoy writing for children. Their desires are simple and are easily appeased. Joy comes to them through experiencing what we adults might find mundane. Yet when it comes down to it, the things that bring the most smiles to their faces are some of the most beautiful things of all. Like a warm summer wind kissing your face for the very first time.

Those of you who write for children, why is it that you have chosen to do so.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hard Work, Perseverance, and Patience Will Pay Off.

Hard work, perseverance, and patience are most always rewarded. Not just in the writing world, but in all aspects of life.

A great example of this is my son, Elder Jordan Frank, who is currently serving an LDS mission in Alaska. It has been tough for him. Either his companions have come loaded with problems, (laziness, anger issues, or in need of being baby sat), the areas he is assigned to wanes horribly in terms of interest in God and or/ apathy from the church members, or he is stuck in a place like Barrow for the winter months where even if the town was something to look at (which it isn't), he couldn't see much of it because it was dark 24/7. With six months left to serve, he has been sent to Juneau. He has only been there a little over two weeks and he has two baptisms lined up, with more in the wings. His companion is easy going, but a hard worker. He drives a Subaru Forester, and  he lives in a cabin on the beach; Auke Bay is in his back yard and Mendenhall Glacier is in his front. The post-card-like picture above is taken from his deck. "Life is sweet," as he puts it.

I'm taking encouragement from my son's current setting. I have hope that my hard work, perseverance, and patience in terms of my writing will soon be rewarded in a similar way. I have been writing seriously for six and a half years. I've often been told that it takes about six to ten years to acquire the status of successful published author. It's almost like obtaining a PhD. There are no short cuts to becoming a doctor, so why should it be any different for the professionals who tend to another aspect of mankind's health--that of the mind. To keep our minds healthy, they need stimulation, relaxation, and to be fed. Reading is the best medicine for this.

Just like attending med-school, I feel confident that I, or any writer, can and will find success if I just implement the aforementioned three qualities: HARD WORK, PERSEVERANCE, AND PATIENCE.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Solar eclipses and good reads

Last week my critique group took a break from crtiquing, donned some funky glasses, and looked at the sun.
This was Tuesday, June 5, when Venus passed in front of the sun. Okay, so this "monumental" event won't take place again for at least another 100+ years, and astronomers all had their telescopes ready and waiting for the big event, the hype (for me) didn't match the event. All I saw was a small pin-prick of black in the upper right hand corner of the sun. Anticlimactic to say the least. Perhaps if I were to have a big, fancy telescope like my neighbor, it might have been cooler. But chances are, it still wouldn't have lived up to the hype for me
This made me think of books. (Of course, everything makes me think of books). I have purchased numerous books, influenced to shell out the buck by the hype of extensive marketing ploys. I, like the whole planet seemed to know about these books and looked forward to their release dates. But did that necessarily make the book an awesome read for me? No. Good PR does not necessary equate a good read. I need a well written story that leaves me feeling uplifted when  I'm done. No amount of advertising will provide those elements, only the author can do that.
What makes for a good read for you? Has lots of hype and PR lead you to good reads, or have you found them elsewhere? Have you ever been disappointed with a book you were influenced to purchase?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A contract that reads like a novel?

Who ever created legal-ease should be shot.
In my world--if I were ever to create one--publishing contracts would read like a novel. The first paragraph would hook you, taunting you to read on. Immediately, you would become interested in what the publisher had to offer, or perhaps not and then you'd put it down. More than anything else, the publisher would want to hold your interest, because he values those who pick up and read their contracts. Everything printed on the pages would have relevance and move the publisher's offer forward. If something was verbose, confusing, or didactic, it would have been struck by a red line in the draft stage, accompanied by a gentle note in the margins that such writing only serves to distance the reader. In the end authors would come away with a good feeling, understanding perfectly what the publisher was trying to convey. The publisher wins because its authors would be happy and they'd want to read another one of their contracts. Not to mention the time and money the publisher (and authors) would save in attorney fees. Also loads of paper and ink--a twenty page contract condenses easily down to two.

I just received my contract from Covenant. As I read through it, I kept thinking I may as well be reading Greek, for all the understanding that came from my efforts. At least if it were in Greek, and not legal ease, I could use an internet language translation app and discover each line's meaning a whole heck of a lot cheaper than hiring an attorney to translate for me.

The big question I have is WHY MUST PUBLISHER MAKE THESE CONTRACTS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND? Why can't they just say what they mean in plain English? If the manuscripts that authors gave to them were a fraction as hard to read as their contracts, they'd toss them in the trash faster than you can count to ten in Greek.