The Write Future

plush frog and books in basket
Junior went with me to Career Day

Today I spoke to four classes of 7th graders during their annual Career Day. This was the first time I’ve ever had enough of a career to consider volunteering, so I’m still buzzing–12 hours after the fact. I also didn’t sleep well last night because my brain was trying to figure out what to say, so I’m not super coherent at this point. I can, however, share a bullet-list of notables:

  • number of teachers who heard my presentation = 6
  • number who asked me for leads on open markets = 4
  • number of 7th graders who heard my presentation = 160
  • number who said they are interested in writing as a career = 14
  • most surprising comment = “I love how the whole Paper House cover is black and white except for the Red Riding Hood. It really draws my eye in.”
  • coolest comment = “I love the feel of this Snowing Fireflies book. And I can’t stop looking at it. Did you paint this?”
  • most common question = “If I write a book, can I send it to you to publish?”
  • most uncomfortable question = “How much can I earn if I do what you do?”
  • question that caused the most tap-dancing = “What’s the deal with those movies made from books that don’t follow the books?”
  • fun poetry related question = “Why do some poetry books have teeny-tiny print with lots of space around the edges? Why don’t they just make the font bigger and have less space?”
  • fun fiction related question = “Do you publish stories on the Kindle? I have one and it would be cool to read your stuff on it.”
  • best question overall = “Are there poems and stories that just aren’t good enough to ever be published?”

This last question will no doubt become its own blog post soon. For now, I can tell you that I got high praise from the English Department for my answer. In the mean time, how would you have answered some of these student questions?


Exhausted from Writing the exPRESS

Phase 2 of my e-book tutorial is ready

I spent nine hours writing a blog post for Folded Word about our method for making both print and e-books in one smooth workflow. Since there’s only 1.25 hours left in the day, that post is going to have to count for my personal post as well. Curious? Grab a strong cup of coffee and click on over.

Same Moment 35 Years Apart

man with milk can on back riding a bicycle
never-ending journey uphill

I was looking for photos in my stash that might be used to build the Freight Collective webpage. For as many times as we’ve moved and driven cross country, I was sure I had some photos of vans filled with boxes or convoys of 18 wheelers. Instead, I ran across this. It is a scan of a slide my grandpa took in the 1970’s when he and my grandma toured (West) Germany and Austria. At first I thought, “This dear man has been pedaling uphill for 35 years and he’s not even breaking a sweat.” But then I looked closer and saw what appears to be an exhaust pipe. Could this be a moped? Or a bicycle converted into a motorcycle? My grandpa was always one for a good invention. This image, preserved from a stack of crumbling slides, allowed me to share an experience with him. Asynchronously, but still. I can hear him tell me a story through this image. And that’s a pretty neat trick considering he’s been gone for 15 years.

photo © 1974  A.C. White, taken in Lauterbrunnen


solitude is a state of mind

I almost didn’t post today. As an act of resignation. Giving up on the post-a-day challenge without even lasting the month. But then my son asked me to help him with a heraldry assignment for Social Studies. I ended up digging through my old England shots again and found a few that I need to revisit, including the one above. Now I’m glad I took the time because the original never did justice to the moment. A moment of transition. My daughter’s transition to a new time zone in a new country. My transition from planning to executing the dream vacation. The day’s transition to night. Rain to fog. Still air to driving wind.

We’d stood on both shores of the Atlantic that year—both shores nearly deserted, though the crowds were 500 feet away. We grabbed our moments of solitude when we found them and tucked them in our pockets, taking them out later on overcrowded trains and long queues. Remembered waves can drown out many an annoying sight or sound.

But how about you? If you have a favorite transition ritual or link to a poem/story about transition, please share:-)

Fish Frost

Fish Frost II
time to hibernate

Winter has come at last. Real winter. With ice. Not sure our goldfish, sleeping below his crystal ceiling, welcomes the cold like we do.

photographic note: first attempt at blurring a sub-layer and erasing part of a top layer to get rid of distracting detail (original image available in my water set on Flickr)

Shock and Awe

I’m sleep deprived and the day’s adrenaline has totally worn off, but here’s the anatomy of the fullest day I’ve had in years:

5:30 a.m.  I asked the people arguing outside my hotel room window to be quiet…and they complied (shock).

7:00 a.m. The hotel clerk actually said “sorry about that” when I honestly answered his “How was your stay?” (shock)

8:45 a.m. & 10:00 a.m.  I played bass in the church band for the first time (shock for friends at church).

12:00 p.m. I brought pages to critique group today–the first pages for my YA work in progress in two years (shock to both myself and the group).

5:00 p.m. My husband made a lovely dinner of braised pork chops, stuffing, and zucchini (awe).

8:00 p.m. I made cookies (shock). For no reason (awe). The kids are really excited about packing tomorrow’s lunches now;-)

I’ll be shocked if I don’t fall asleep quickly tonight. It would be awesome to get a full 8 hours of z’s.

How We Get There

Spectrum Travel II
travel = off-kilter

A friend recently asked me for any travel tips I had on traveling with a child on the autism spectrum. Responding to that is tricky—the only constant about ASD is that nothing is constant. Every kiddo is different. But here’s what gets us from A to B and back again:

  1. Accept how much the child will be asked to bend. Bend in equal measure.
  2. Travel in a mode the child can manage. If waiting in line for more than 15 minutes is a problem, drive. If sitting still for more than 30 minutes is a problem, take the  train. With modern security protocols, there are very few accommodations to be had at airports. Fly only if the child is nearing the skill set required.
  3. Electronics, electronics, electronics. Charge ’em up. Plug ’em in. Better to deal with tantrums at the destination rather than in the air, on the road, or along the tracks.
  4. Fidget items, both favorites and new, help when electronics can’t be used. Save for moments that call for happy surprise and distraction.
  5. Pack snacks. Loads of ’em. Especially chewy ones for air travel.
  6. Communicate every little step of the way. Checklists or visual schedules facilitate understanding during stress. Use them during fun outings prior to the trip so they are associated with “happy.”
  7. Medic alert tags (necklace, bracelet, shoe tag, or whatever will stay on) serve three purposes: to reunite the family if the child wanders, to alert security that there may be a reason for disruptive behaviors, and to give parental peace of mind that there is a safety net in both scenarios.
  8. Plan some parental pampering the night before and the day after travel. Then take a deep breath and survive the ride.
  9. Plan, try, do. Then ignore any looks and comments.
  10. Remember: all of us learn by doing. Without doing and failing a little, we’ll never get enough practice to do and succeed. Just do it.

We have traveled cross-country, one way or another, each year since our son was diagnosed. Recent highlights are available on this blog.


Facebook is Good for Something

my pearl

My daughter asked me to show her how to grab a picture off Google Images tonight to use as her Facebook profile picture. I refused. Then we had a little chat about copyright. Followed by a little stroll through my personal cache of photographs.

And something amazing happened: she latched on to one and asked me to show her how to do “that program where you fix stuff” (i.e. Lightroom). She’s a quick learner and has a great eye. Within 5 minutes, she turned a well-composed-but-flat image into the dreamy image above.

I’m one proud mom tonight:-)

P.S. This photo was taken on the beach in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on a foggy July day.