Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday's Word: Drive

I need a simple post today, so I'm reverting back to my old Wednesday's Word simplicity. Today's word is: Drive. I'm not referring to that leisure jaunt in an automobile on a Sunday afternoon, I'm talking about what motivates a person to do something. In this post I want to delve into what drives someone to write. Being an author is a lonely job. There are no office parties, chats around the water cooler or over the cubicle wall. A writer sits alone all day (when they are lucky and don't have family take all their writing time), at their computer, their only interaction with other people comes through online social media. And then there is the pay, or lack thereof, and the rejections, and the possible tossing of a year's worth of work in the cybertrash. So what could possibly motivate a sane person to devote their life to wanting to be an author?

To my author friends out there, what powers the DRIVE that keeps you going when everything around you tells you it's not worth it?

This is what drives me:

Society says
today's youth want to read
books filled with suicide, sex, smut, and greed.

But I don't agree
with the message this sends:
"If you like to read, you must bend to the trends."

That is why I write,
to make books that inspire
to live life on a plain a step higher.

And . . .
to give kids a choice
in the books that they read.
If I lift but one soul, I succeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Calling Evil Good and Good Evil

Isaiah warned people of the last days, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). Why would he give this a warning if he did not know that such would be the case? On an almost daily basis I see where this is, indeed, the way of our world.

The following is an entry I wrote for my blog last year, and somehow I missed publishing it. So I'm going to share it with you now:

The other day I chatted with a neighbor who had recently moved to Kaysville from California. Somehow we got on the topic of the American history class her thirteen year old son attended in California. Her son, Eric, brought home a copy of the Declaration of Independence to study. My neighbor noticed how the word God and Creator had been replaced in the document with an ellipsis . . .  She went on to mention a painting that caught her attention hanging in the hall of Kaysville Jr. High when she went to register her son for school. It was the Arnold Freiberg painting of George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge. (It’s one of my favorite paintings). “You would never find such a painting in any of the schools in California,” she said. “They would consider that mixing church with state.”

We’re talking about history here, not trying to convert some teenage boy to Mormonism or Catholicism, as part of the curriculum. These things happened. They are part of our country’s history. The signers of the Declaration of Independence believed in God. Their belief and faith is what moved them to seek independence. And yes, George Washington prayed to God for help as he undertook the impossible—leading a rag-tag army of farmers against the greatest military power known to that date . To deny that these events happened as they did, or to alter a historical document because it offends someone, is no different that denying the Holocaust ever happened. History is history, whether we like it or not.

I dare say that the educator that censored the Declaration of Independence for those California students was probably in favor of same sex marriage or something equally as pernicous; a perfect example of those who would call evil good and good evil.

I’ve seen this paradigm in the world of YA writers. Last year I attended the SCBWI national conference in L.A. for my first time. Up to that point I had been naive, assuming if a book was written for children it would automatically be rated G or PG. Wrong! The buzz seemed to be that YA fiction needed to be realistic, and the real world of the adolescent right now was filled with sex, violence and filthy language. By being open and realistic with every intimate detail on such matters, we as writers were supposedly helping kids deal with life—it was a good thing. During that conference I wondered if I even had a chance at being a successful YA author if I didn’t have an absolutely horrible high school experience and I didn’t lace my manuscript with filthy language and sex.

Fortunately, an agent from the Andrea Brown Agency reassured me that, even though sex was selling, there still was a market for good, clean YA. She, for one, did not care for the smut. I didn’t end up hooking up with that agent, but I did come away from the conference with an increased desire to write and publish well-written, entertaining, uplifting literature for kids.

I know that’s what the Lord wants me to do, and I know He has helped me thus far with my writing. If any of you other YA/middle grade writers have felt a similar passion, urge, calling—whatever you want to name it—to write uplifting literature, I think it is your duty to follow it. We need to make sure that there are just as many wholesome books out there for kids to read as there is unwholesome ones. And if the world wants to make fun of our books, saying they are not what kids need or want, but their smut is, we’ll just remember Isaiah 5:20, keep writing, and give kids a choice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Does life throw you curve balls?

Life is precarious. You never know when it will throw you a curve ball.
My husband and I got one thrown at us this past Monday morning. He called and spoke with his boss in Cincinnati on the phone, like he does every Monday morning. Out of the blue his boss told my husband that they were laying him off. The rest of the day felt surreal for us. From what we can gather, it sounds like my husband's position is being taken over by someone off-shore, in India.

I grew up seeing my dad stay at the same job until he retired. The older and wiser the employee was, the more valued he was--this was the paradigm of the 60's and 70's. Employees weren't laid off merely because they could be replaced by someone cheaper. But things are changing in this country. It's all about the almighty dollar. But, of course, employers still want you to be dedicated to them--even if they don't return the favor. What kind of work environment is this going to morph into? Employees will be hesitant to give their all because they can no longer feel secure. Productivity will go down, prices will go up, more and more jobs will go overseas, less and less money will stay in the US, so buying power will be reduced, and companies will flounder, etc., etc.,

Jobs in this country are precarious. What can we do about it?

My husband is nearly 55 years old and a computer programmer--a profession that is known for its age discrimination. His chances of finding work will be difficult. If he can't find a suitable job soon, he's thinking of pursuing the same avenue as more and more people in his position--become his own boss.

I'm my own boss, having run my own small company for years. I am also a self published author--a choice many have had to make with the changing dynamics of the publishing world. It's a lot of work, but it is comforting to know that a midst this ever-changing percarious world, there are options. We can weather the storms of change. Though the country we live in has its problems, it is still great; it is conducive and welcoming to the little guy with big dreams.

What kind of curve balls has life thrown you? How have your dealt with them?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Winner of a copy of Everneath

The winner of my book giveaway is Mandi. Thanks for entering. Keep an eye on my blog at the end of this month. I'll be giving something away then as well.