Wednesday, September 7, 2011
With Monday evening's arrival, I put the summer to bed one last time. School started yesterday and so far, so good. It sure seems to be easier than when the kids were in lower grades. Like most parents, I'm hoping it'll stay that way. My oldest is a senior - gulp - and he's getting his senior pictures taken and I'm having my author photos retaken the same day. Seems so strange to think of that. And exciting.
I have had a very busy writing summer. I had two full novels come out and contracted my 10th last Friday. I've also written another children's book, but haven't had a chance to polish and submit it yet. Tomorrow I'm going to Las Vegas for a writer's convention. I'm filled with nervous anxiety. I'm doing my first reading as an author. I read at mass all the time, but this is different and I hope I do okay.
Kathy from I Am a Reader, Not A Writer, interviewed me and reviewed my book, First Spring. Please click on the link and come by and get to know me a little bit better and you could win the book, too.
It's good to get back into a regular rhythm again. The topsy-turvey summer schedule had me frazzled a lot of days. The autumn leaves and a bumper crop of apples have my attention. It's my favorite season. What's on your autumn calendar?
I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
The big day arrived yesterday. My niece, Sara, and her husband, Ben, welcomed their son, Carter Benjamin into the world. Healthy, 7 pounds, 13 ounces, all fingers and toes present. I've seen a photo and he's a great looking baby. If you'll recall, about five weeks ago, I wrote about Sara after I went to her baby shower. So, now I am a Great Aunt. That sounds so silly. She will be coming for a visit and the baptism and I am eager to meet Carter.
Speaking of babies, I got a fantastic review of my nursery rhyme from the Children's and Teen's Book Connection. I'd be pleased if you took a look. Reviewers have a hard job and I offer my thanks for their time and kind words. Read the review now! The buy link is in the review, but here it is just in case you know of a special child in your life that deserves a wonderful bedtime story. Buy First Spring by Margaret Rose at Guardian Angels Publishing.
July 4th is just a few days away. I hope you'll take some time to relax and reflect on what a great nation we have and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for those who have lead our nation and who do so today.
Until the next time,
Monday, June 27, 2011
Writing a "chapter book" scared me most of my life.
Her mom asked me some questions about how and where I write. I write about 60 hours a week and I always write in the same place. I told Kathryn that she should try to write something every day, too. Even if she doesn't feel like working on her chapter book that day, write a little paragraph about something else to get in the writing habit. Then we talked a little about her main character, Jenny. Jenny is a lot like Kathryn. That's a good thing, I told her, write what you know. I explained how I find pictures of my characters and keep little notes about them so when I'm writing I don't forget important details. She thought these suggestions were good since she'd already forgotten a few things.
This is a child who will be a lifelong writer and critical thinker. Her tenacity was really something. Maybe she won't become an author, but some of what she does now will obviously help her in school and maybe she'll have a lifelong love for creative writing. And she'll live boldly, because a child who isn't afraid to write a chapter book at age 10 has it going on.
She asked for my email address and smiled like she won the lottery when I wrote it down without hesitation. Of course mom will be over her shoulder but this little girl really inspired me and I look forward to hearing from her soon.
I love fireworks. Do you? I've watched them from high above in airplanes. I've watched them in Europe and I love watching them at home. I hate the mosquitoes that always come with though. LOL We'll have my husband's family and some of mine here for the long weekend. My eldest son's concert/jazz bands are playing in the park that evening and my youngest will be in the Honor Guard for Scouts too. Our flags will be waving. Thank you, brave men and women, who fought and served our company so bravely, so fiercely, so all we have to worry about on July 4th is whether we get a good seat for the fireworks. Sure puts those sacrifices in perspective.
I hope you're enjoying your summer. Until the next time,
Friday, May 27, 2011
Last weekend, I was at a baby shower for my niece, Sara. In addition to being my niece, she's also my god-daughter and this is the first time I'll be a great-aunt. When she read the cover, it took her a second to connect the author name to me and I totally loved the expression on her face when she did. It was such a nice moment that I will cherish for a very long time...well, maybe until I get to read the book to her child. Now that will be something.
Spring has been a nasty mess of cold weather and storms here. Not nearly as bad as some of our neighbors to the south, but we haven't come out of it unscathed. A dumpster will arrive in our yard on Tuesday and they'll replace our roof for the third time in nearly as many years. A broken window and all our deck railings wait to be hauled away too.
Despite the destruction and my impatience with Mother Nature, I found some inspiration between the rain drops. I've begun writing a new rhyme about going barefoot. When I was a child, if there wasn't snow on the ground, we had no shoes on our feet. My mother didn't like us out barefoot breaking skim ice on mud puddles. And I remember many first days of school, struggling to keep my socks and shoes on, but that didn't stop us very often. The rhyme is still pretty rough in some spots, but I hope to make it behave this weekend. And maybe in the coming months I'll be able to tell you it'll be published.
I hope you have a great Memorial Day holiday weekend. Remember to thank a vet and pray for soldiers and their families.
Until the next time,
Monday, May 16, 2011
Some people feel you aren’t truly reading unless you can smell the ink on paper or hear the crack of the spine when you fold open the book. But let’s face it, reading needs to come with a warning, “Results May Vary.”
Are you raising a reluctant reader? Do they groan when you remind them they need to do their 20 minutes of reading homework? Are you already lamenting the arguments you will have during the summer just to keep their newly acquired reading skills from rusting like the Tin Man is a summer downpour? Never fear, hope is here. This summer, try a new approach to reading.
Take your child and one of his friends downtown. Ask them to take turns reading the signs, the shop names, the brochures taped in storefront windows as you wander. Be sure to end at the candy shop where you can reward them with a scoop of ice cream after they’ve read all the different kinds available to choose from.
Does your child love the computer? Let them play on sites like Guardian Angel Kids an inter-active online magazine. In order to play, they will have to read the instructions!
Speaking of computers, Be There Bedtime Stories is a webcam storytelling site that allows you to record yourself (or a grandparent, aunt or uncle) reading a book, then your child can read along on screen as they listen. There are so many titles to choose from, you are certain to find one your child will love to read again and again.
Books on CD make a perfectly acceptable substitution to reading the paperbound version of a book. Listening to a book on CD models good reading skills for your child. Exposes them to new words, within the proper context, in turn broadening their vocabulary.
The love of reading doesn’t always develop the same in our children as it did in us. Yet, if you approach reading with a creative eye, you will often find the type of reading your child enjoys. In the end, you are helping your child to develop a skill they will need and use throughout life. Instead of curling up with a good book, they may plug in headphones and listen to it on their IPod or curl up opposite you with their eReader, but you can rest assured that they will have learned to love the written word as much as you, because you were willing to let them come at it from a different direction.
Kai's debut book is The Weaver. This is the synopsis:
In a town of word weavers, Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. Mary thinks her troubles are over when she meets a gnome-elf who grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, she's weaving strange yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales.
It's getting great reviews! Get your copy of The Weaver here.
Kai Strand is a children's author of middle grade and young adult novels. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she inherited a wholesome outlook on life. She lived in California long enough to become a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. They now live in Central Oregon where the most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!"
Obviously, Kai likes to write. The Weaver is Kai’s debut book. She reads a lot as well and calls it research. Kai loves to garden, and is trying out a greenhouse for the first time this year. She loves to sing. You might find her singing in Latin while browsing at Target. Most of the time she isn’t aware she’s singing aloud. She and her family love to hike and geocache. Kai walks 45 miles a month for exercise.
Thank you for visiting with us today, Kai. I wish you great success on your book tour and with The Weaver. I have a reluctant reader at our house and these tips do help a lot.
Until the next time,
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I submitted First Spring to the Boston Globe's Horn Book Awards today. It cost me an arm and a leg to get the books there by overnight mail since I didn't learn about the contest until yesterday. The awards have been handed out since 1967 for excellence in children and young adult literature.
Do I have more than a snowball's chance in hell to win? Who knows, but as the old saying goes, you'll never know if you don't try.
When it comes to writing, I think that's one thing I've learned over the past 10 years. My fear of writing about things I didn't know or understand had to take a back seat when I was forced into writing magazine features. Over time, I got in my groove and really, really enjoyed it.
Time on my hands forced me to try fan fiction. The ball started rolling and turned into novels.One novel has turned into eight in three years. In many ways, I'm glad I didn't know all about the requirements for being a published author before I tried it. I'm pretty sure I'd have been so overwhelmed with the information, I'd have believed that college prof who said I was too lazy to be a good fiction writer.
To be perfectly honest, I submitted First Spring for publication because I figured I had nothing to loose. And look how it turned out? I have a great little nursery rhyme out - with Lynda and Mariana's wonderful help.
In essence, our fears hold us back. Live boldly. Failure teaches us how to succeed in the future. Will I win one of these coveted awards? Don't know. It would be darn cool. At least I tried.
What have you dared to do lately? I'd love to hear your story.
Until the next time.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Come by Kai Strand's lovely blog and find out what's in our Easter baskets. Tell me your favorite springtime memory and you could win a print copy of my nursery rhyme, First Spring. Your memory doesn't have to be serious - could be crazy funny! I enjoy them all. I hope to hear from you! Click here to go to Kai's blog! The contest runs through April 14.
If you don't want to take your chances, First Spring is a wonderful Easter and/or baby shower gift. You can get your print or eBook copy right now here.
See you at Strands of Thought!
Monday, March 28, 2011
Effective writing is about dramatizing, drawing the reader into your story. Making your characters so realistic, your readers won't forget about them very soon. Even if your story is quite short, there are ways to make that character endearing. Then, by engaging the senses, your writing becomes vivid. It is the distinct difference between telling (boring) and dramatizing (connecting).
Let's look at this picture.
Pick an individual or look at the entire group. Make some notes as you read these questions. How do you imagine this music sounds? Do you get shivers or do your ears hurt? Can you smell the walking taco the guy next to you is eating, or sweat from previous basketball games? Are you anticipating what happens next or hoping it'll end fast? Does the scene or the location evoke memories? Good ones or bad ones? Something hilarious perhaps? Look at your notes. Can you pull them together into a little story? Can a couple of the people in the photo add some dialog to liven things up a bit more? Sit back and think about what you've got. Could be a few paragraphs; might be a page. A single photo has turned into entire novels for me. It takes practice.
Try something else.
Did you mom or dad bake bread? Maybe your grandma did. What was that like? Think about the way fresh bread smells coming out of the oven. Do you remember the sound of the oven opening and the precise color of the loves when they came out of the oven? Were you lucky enough to have a slide when it was still warm? With butter or peanut butter? Both? Ah, I've died and gone to heaven.
These kinds of tricks help you think in terms of dramatization, not just telling.
Telling: Grandma opened the oven door and took out three loaves of bread when the oven timer range.
Dramatizing: Gradma peered into the dark oven, its door making an angry squawk as she opened it.
"They're ready," she said, her voice triumphant. Using her white, flour sack dish towels, Grandma pulled each loaf from the oven. The scent permeated her small kitchen. Chocolate-brown crusts begged for a slathering of butter, which she spread on as soon as the door was shut and the oven off.Make a habit of writing every day. Don't worry about what you write or how good it is. The point is to write every day and push yourself to improve over time. And if somebody sees my muse, send her home. It's past curfew.
How do you get your muse to cooperate? What inspires you? I'd love to know.
Until the next time.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Friend, author, and columnist, David Kentner invited me to his blog to talk about my busy life as a mother and author. Scroll down the page to read the interview on his romance blog.
Next Friday, this story will be distributed to GateHouse News Service and be available from coast to coast. It has already been picked up overseas. Meet Margaret Rose.
Thanks for your time and comments.
My mother comes from Germany. One of my favorite memories of her is when I was probably 8 years old. We had a wall in our kitchen that all of us kids (and there were quite a few) could hang our drawings and school work on. After Valentine's Day I remember her standing there and in her typical German accent, asking, "Do you vant the Walentines on da vall?" Still makes me smile.
I love making Valentine's hearts. Great big pieces of pink, red, and white construction paper, frilly paper doilies, glitter glue, colored markers, felt, and stickers would cover the kitchen table when the kids were younger. The neighbor kids would show up and we'd spend an afternoon together making these to decorate the walls and give away.I'd cut out various sizes out of cardboard so the kids could trace the hearts. Some of them turned out in paper doll fashion, linked and then decorated however the children decided. I always liked to write one word in each heart and make them super big so the whole family knew I LOVE YOU.
On the back of my bedroom door, though faded now, is a collection of my son's hearts. Misshapen from little left-handed efforts to cut a recognizable heart. Scribbles meant to read I Love You. A fingerpainted vase with long green stems and his tiny hands as the flowers created a Valentine's Day bouquet. Years ago now, the memory of making these is fresh, durable.
Have you made a Valentine's Day memory yet? I hope so.
Until the next time.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
"There once was a baby named Dylan, whose smile sent my heart just a thrillin'. His eyes were so blue and they said, "I love you," there once was a baby named Dylan.
Did you ever make up lullabies for your children? Rewriting song lyrics and sometimes coming up with entirely new songs is a fun pastime of mine. Like the little ditty above, which has a unique melody and four verses, I used to revel in making these up, often spontaneously for my kids.
"Zachy, how I love ya, how I love ya, my baby Zachy. You got a smile as bright as the fourth of July, and when you smile like that, it makes my heart sigh . . . ."
Bathtime at our house would be raucous affairs with all kinds of loud silliness and splashing. A car ride on a bumpy road could make us burst into songs that made no sense, had no point, and sometimes no end. Once I rewrote the lyrics to the Battle of New Orleans. I turned it into a fishing song that was hilarious but I couldn't sing it worth a darn. The key just wouldn't stick in my head. Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings turned into a parody on peeps who aren't very nice to others. We sang that around the campfire for years.
Do you do these crazy things with your friends and families? It sure makes for some fun memories. Share your memories and crazy ideas here.
Until the next time.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Join me at Tracey Cox's blog today. Hers is the first Guardian Angel blog I've guested on and in honor of that, I'm giving away an autographed copy of my nursery rhyme, First Spring! Come by and share your favorite childhood memory that involves nature and you could win the book. Might as well keep busy and stay warm! Let's get to know each other! I hope to see you this evening. Click here.
The first photo was taken on the Mississippi on an equally cold day. These swans have grown accustomed to staying in the area because the water coming from the nearby nuclear power plant keeps the temps a bit warmer. Otherwise, they'd be outa here!
I could barely see through the viewfinder...the wind was blowing and tears were streaming down my face - and darn near freeing in the process. But it was an amazing sight and suitable for such a very cold Minnesota day.