Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Institute of Children's Literature

Jan Fields is the moderator of writing forums at the website for the Institute of Children's Literature at www.institutechildrenslit.com. This morning at 11 a.m. pst, she told those in her weekly writing forum that she signed with a book packager to create a juvenile book series about magic. This should interest all those Harry Potter fans. It will be the basic hero's journey and a look into the portal of a magical world.

Anyone interested in writing for children should check out this website packed with important articles, forum transcripts, and great tips to publish your writing for children. Be sure to attend her weekly Tuesday forums. Jan Fields had considered a career in media law so she has keen insight into the publishing process. Jan has published over 20 children's books for a toy company, and dozens of articles and stories for magazines.

This Thursday, Jan will interview Charles "Tony" Burton about publishing children's books. He's the editor of Crime and Suspense at www.crimeandsuspense.com. He also started a small press publishing house--Wolfmont Press at www.wolfmont.com. Come ask your writing questions, check out the Tuesday forums, and explore all the great writing articles at www.institutechildrenslit.com.

On October 12th, Jan interviewed Bonny Becker from 5 to 7 p.m. pst about "Birthing a Book." You can read the forum transcript at the website. Every other week, Jan interviews a successful published children's author, book editor, or publisher. Bring your questions and attend a forum.

I can highly recommend the Institute of Children's Literature. I've taken two magazine courses and am working on the novel writing course. What is most impressive about the novel writing course is that it takes the writer through the complete first draft of three children's picture book manuscripts or a juvenile novel and through the revision with a writing mentor who is an instructor with the Institute of Children's Literature. My juvenile novel is about two sisters who go to writing camp and come back home to start a neighborhood theater. My only regret is that I didn't take this course many years ago. The fun would have started much sooner.

The Long Ridge Writer's Group

This morning at 10 pst in the writing forum at www.longridgewritersgroup.com, Mary Rosenblum said, "Words are just the lego pieces you use to build the castle." I love this quote. Mary is the forum moderator and webmaster for the Long Ridge Writers Group, which is connected to the Institute of Children's Literature.

Mary Rosenblum has published 7 novels and over 60 short stories for Asimiov's and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines. Mary teaches writing and is a frequent speaker at writing conferences. See an earlier post in my blog where I nominated Mary as one of the women I admire most in the world.

I'm in the middle of reading one of Mary Freeman's (aka Mary Rosenblum) mysteries, Garden View. I found some sentences I like in her book. Mary said, "Rumors had wings here, and grew like zucchini wherever they landed." Another one...."Death was a personal enemy here--a dark familiar who peeked from the depths of the mirror and lurked behind the infirmary door." Then in describing what a gardener or landscaper can do in dialogue, she wrote...."You create magic places for people. So that they can dream, they walk into them and escape all the ugliness of the real world."

I know from writing forums that Mary has a big garden and writes a series of garden mysteries. The last quote makes me understand the potential of what I can do here in my own garden in Alsea on my 3.68 acres to create my own magic place to escape all the ugliness of the real world. I think it should be surrounded by sunflowers.

Yesterday I took the heads of my sunflowers and put them on my fence so I could watch the Steller's Jays eat all the seeds from my kitchen window.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Toyota

My husband and I bought our first Toyota in 2003. It was a white 2003 Corolla. It was the best car that I've ever driven. It had every option that I needed and more. I loved my Toyota and enjoyed driving it. It handled well on the road, around curves, and it was dependable. More than this, it had great gas mileage. It's not the most expensive car in the world but it has everything I need and I can't see why I would ever want to buy another car.

Earlier this year with all the driving we do, we had to make a decision about our car. It had almost 70,000 miles on it, needed new brakes, and we had a high interest rate loan. My husband decided to buy a new 2006 Corolla LE with a low interest rate, which put us in a stronger position financially. When he went out to look at cars, I told him that it had to be a Toyota. Our new car will be paid off sooner than the loan on the old car so it was definately a wise decision.

I love my new Toyota too. It has everything I could want and more. It's dependable and gets great gas mileage. It's safe and it's stylish. This time, we're not driving into Corvallis as often or making so many trips. That should help keep our car in better condition. I plan on keeping this car for a long, long, long time.

News Column

I read a newspaper column recently by a young person writing for the Gazette Times in Corvallis, Oregon. I'm impressed with the Gazette Times for encouraging young people to write and for all their amazing and creative efforts to encourage readers.

This column written by the young person expressed a common attitude expressed by many these days. The idea is that one shouldn't create a scandal by shining a light on what's wrong in life. I have a difficult time agreeing with this because I think that it is far more important to make sure that a scandal does not happen in the first place and that light does shine on what's wrong.

A check and balance system in a free society should ferret out what's wrong, correct it, and prevent it from happening again, in my opinion. The right to express your opinion is central to this and a concept that is growing more restricted. This concerns me.

Monday, October 09, 2006


On Saturday night, I took my five bucks in hand and went to the Hope Grange in Alsea to hear the legendary band, Swampgrass. I had one of the best times that I've had since I moved here five years ago and all I did was sit on a bench by myself and listen. The members of the band came out of retirement for one last time as a fundraiser for the Hope Grange. Most of the members are probably pushing 60 and 70 and you would never guess by looking at each one that there was this kind of music pulsing in their veins. They surprised me. I didn't know anyone on stage. I'd heard of Russ Sapp since he is on the board for Consumers Power. Everyone should hear him play and sing.

One of the guys hadn't been on stage for 20 years and yet when he belted out the Johnny Cash song, "A Guy Named Sue," I had a hard time believing that he hadn't been on stage every night for the last ten years.

These guys are really good. They sure had a great drummer. It's sad to think that they aren't going to play anymore. They played a mix of rock and country. It was all good and some of it original. The Hope Grange was crowded with young and old. There were some good dancers out there carving out patterns on the floor. It looked like everyone was having a great time as evidenced with smiles, laughter, dancing, and singing with the band. It was good old-fashioned fun and something that Alsea needs.

I'd like to see a community band and community theater. It would be nice to have weekly or at least monthly dances. My husband and I don't dance but I think everyone else would enjoy it. They sure did on Saturday night.

I got a chance to talk to one member of the band between sets. I asked him who everyone was and I found out that he was Gary Banowetz who leads a research department at OSU working for the federal government in the development of biofuels. They are planning on reopening the old lumber mills here in Alsea and using them to convert wood and straw to biofuel. He said that the USDA believes that straw and manure will be the largest source of material to be used to create biofuel. It's a safe bet that it will be up and running in 5 years. If you have 1000 acres of grassland and a combine, you will reap the rewards of cashing in on this new venture. My 3.68 acres just wouldn't do. I can see a Nobel Prize on the horizon for Gary Banowetz who is living out his boyhood dream of finding an alternative source of fuel to gasoline.

It was nice to see the community having fun on Saturday night. I'm glad I got the chance to hear Swampgrass. It was worth going and spending the $5.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dancing with the Stars

I'm starting to get into the show, Dancing with the Stars. This last week, I didn't vote because I didn't watch it until the next day. It was saved on my TiVo. If I would have voted, I would have voted for Jerry Springer, Mario Lopez, and Emmett Smith. In my opinion, they are the ones with real personality on the show. Mario and Emmett have dancing toes. Mario is a brilliant dancer with so much emotion and energy. Emmett has power and owns the stage.

The real shocker is that I like Jerry. I've never been a fan of his talk show which concentrates on the worst in human beings. In my book, he gets stars for being an attorney, smart, and Jewish, but rocks for his show. After seeing him in Dancing with the Stars, I can see that he's a nice guy and I misjudged him. I still don't like his talk show though. He's dancing with his daughter who will marry in December. It was touching.

I'm going to try to watch the show next week so I have time to vote.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Homeschool Pledge

I homeschooled my children in Arroyo Grande, California for four years starting in 1978. I wrote a pledge that I had them say every morning after the Pledge of Alligence to the Flag and after singing "It's a Grand Ole Flag." I designed the curriculum myself that was recognized by Gifted Children Newsletter published in New Jersey by the editor, James Alvino.

Here's the pledge...........

I will work hard and never give up.
I will work hard to be the best I can be.
I value myself. I am of worth. I am important.
I will always show respect for myself
and the rights of others.
I must prepare myself
to take my place as a future world leader.
I must work hard to find the answers
to all the questions in the world.
I must work hard to serve my community and my country.
I will work hard and never give up.
Nothing is going to stop me from being who I am.
Nothing is going to stop me from being who I am.
Nothing is going to stop me from being who I am.

I will work hard to be a good friend.
I will be kind and understanding.
I will not put others down or say things
to make my friends feel sad
for when I diminish others,
I am also diminished.
I will remember that there is something special
about each person I meet.
By making my friends feel like winners,
I become a winner.

My Pumpkin Patch

My grandchildren visited on Saturday to pick out a pumpkin in Grandma's Pumpkin Patch in Alsea.

The first photo on top at the left is of my daughter Gretchen with my grandchildren, Lizzy and Jack. See Lizzy's great smile!

The second photo on top at the right is with Jack sitting on his pumpkin next to his Dad, Christopher, my son-in-law.

The photo at the left is a skeleton I made for Halloween for Jack and Lizzy to take home. I got the directions out of the Disney magazine, Family Fun. It's made out of PVC pipe. The head is a bleach bottle and the hands and feet are cut out of milk jugs. I think he's pretty cute. Family Fun calls him Mr. Bone E. Part. The directions are on page 76 and 126 in the October, 2006 issue of Family Fun.

Garth Stein

Garth Stein is in Eugene, Oregon to speak to writers gathered for a Willamette Writers event tonight. I wanted to go and listen to him. Pitched as one of the best speakers in the northwest about writing, I know that I am missing out. He's going to speak about the "creative process in fiction." He writes novels, screenplays, plays, and directs films. Wow! Evidently he knows Robert Downey Jr., one of my favorite actors with talent off the charts. Downey starred in one of Stein's films that he produced. Robert Downey Jr. played opposite Calista Flockhart for awhile in Ally McBeal, one of my favorite shows.

I dream of the time when I can afford to attend these monthly meetings of Willamette Writers, attend conferences, workshops, and join other writing organizations.

Right now I must suck it up and accept what I can do each day.

I think I'm going to ratchet up the time spent writing every day. I read a bio yesterday for Nora Roberts online. She writes 8 hours everyday and has published as much as 8 to 10 novels in ONE year. How's that for being productive! What an inspiration!

Patricia Dunn

On the front page of the Gazette Times this morning is the headline, "Five charged with felonies at Hewlett Packard." www.gazettetimes.com Patricia Dunn is one of the five charged in the companies "disastrous boardroom leak investigation."

The first thing that came to my mind is that I wonder if Patricia Dunn is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Why? I know that there are many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who work at Hewlett Packard in Corvallis and in other places. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1995 to 2001 serving in callings in the Stake Relief Society Presidency, Primary President, and as a church service missionary helping people in Salem, Oregon find employment in an eight stake area, I have seen how easily members violate basic constitutional rights of their church members without hesitation.

When you move to a different city or ward in a different part of the city, Relief Society sisters offer to help you unpack and help you put things away. There is a purpose to this joyous help. The Relief Society President or a member of the Relief Society Presidency reports back on any books, possessions, or food that is contraband or violates the word of wisdom. You can tell a lot about a family by looking at their possessions, books, and what they have in their cupboards. Is there reading material that you shouldn't be reading? I was told I shouldn't be reading National Geographic by a visiting teacher here in Alsea. Is there coffee or tea in your cupboards? The Elders Quorum President went through my cupboards in Alsea.

When I moved to Alsea, I was asked by the Relief Society President what I wanted or needed. I said friendship because I knew it would be hard for me to live in Alsea. I think she was taken aback by that. They offered to unpack my things. I wasn't raised to take advantage of kindness. I also wasn't raised to go through people's things or go into people's drawers when I visit someone. I think I was suspect from the beginning because I didn't allow them to unpack. Yes, it would have made my life easier. I don't have questionable stuff, but this is a violation of basic privacy.

I also wonder if the person who set up Homeland Security is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because these ideas come right out of church practice.

Let's see now...........violating constitutional rights, hiding assets (my husband saw this happen when we worked as church service missionaries), protecting child preditors (the Catholic Church isn't the only one)..................It seems like there is a case to be made in court to take away the tax exemption from this church.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. This is a challenge to write the first draft of a novel in 30 days during the month of November. I completed the challenge last year and signed up this morning to begin again on November 1.

Chris Baty, who started this Nano challenge, wrote a book about it called NO PLOT, NO PROBLEM. On the wall next to my computer is the scheduled word count outline for each day during the month. On day 1, I should have 1,667 words done. Day 5--8,335 words. Day 10--16,670. Day 15--25,005 words and so on.

People all over the world take up this writing challenge. It's pretty exciting to be part of this amazing experience.

The website is www.nanowrimo.org. I signed up as wendywrites. You can keep track of my progress and say a few prayers for me during the month to keep me moving towards my goal. I will be listed under Team 2006. Right now I'm listed for Team 2005.

I learned a lot by taking this writing challenge last year. I learned I could write the first draft of a novel in a month which sure boosted my writing confidence. Before this time, I was struggling with my writing speed. Nanowrimo is the marathon for writers. As I keep learning how to write well, I should be able to turn out two novels a year--my goal.