Saturday, July 30, 2011

Banned Books?

I encourage you to read a banned book. Let's support the first amendment and send a clear message to those in power all around the world that the freedoms to think, learn and grow are inherent for all humans.

Check out this list of books that have been banned in 2009 and 2010:

Yes, you will find Junie B. Jones, Harry Potter and A Wrinkle in Time on this list, among others.

Check one of these treasures out of your local library or buy one at your bookstore this week!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ignite the Flame Win!

I wanted to share how excited I am to be a first place winner in the Young Adult category of the Ignite the Flame contest sponsored by the Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW) for The Time Keeper's Daughter.

The best part? I received feedback from two published authors on my entry. They both provided me with great insights on plot points and formatting. And, I'll be receiving feedback from a literary agent as one of the prizes.

One of the things I've learned about trying to publish a book is that feedback is the most important gift you can receive. When I attended the COFW writer's retreat earlier this year, I was so proud of the first chapter I brought to share with the critique group. It started with a long narrative where my character spoke directly to the reader and shared her background. The critique group at the retreat helped me understand how I needed to change the opening to be more active. I needed to do more showing and less telling.

When I entered the Cleveland Rocks contest and won second place I received two pages of feedback from the agent who judged the contest. She helped me see that the book needed more sizzle up front in terms of the romance. She provided additional feedback about showing versus telling.

Using her feedback I once again rewrote the opening chapter of the book and then entered in the Ignite the Flame contest, which is all about showing the sizzle in the romance.

I'm so grateful for the amazing feedback I've received. My next step? Finish polishing the book and start writing the query letter.

Meanwhile, I've got an exciting new story idea that's keeping me up nights scribbling notes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life with Tourette's...

I have Torrette’s syndrome.

Actually it’s a mild version called a Large Motor Tic Disorder.

I don’t volley out curse words randomly, although I do let them escape from my lips somewhat involuntarily from time to time, but that’s situational not medical. It’s my hands that won’t sit still. I can make them sit still. I can hold them in my lap if I notice what I’m doing. I can order them to go under the table and tic down there.

My hands only somewhat pay attention, so great is my urge to tic. It’s like an itch that’s uncontrollable. It takes all your energy to control it. Even under the table I can’t choose the exact form it wants to come out in. I scrape the daylights out of my pinkie on a regular basis. It’s a battle sometimes to pay attention when I’m fighting the urge to tic so hard.

The facial tics aren’t so bad. I look like I’m stifling a yawn.

People notice and they wonder. “Are you cold?” they ask politely as I shake in my seat.

“No,” I just have Torrette’s,” I tell them.

They look at me with horror in their eyes. We all have our limitations right? So I say move on. I can have this disorder and do whatever anyone else does. Maybe even do it better.

I was at the School of the Blind once. There were several kids there who had a host of issues. Quite a few had tics they couldn’t control. I envied them their freedom to tic. They did it without remorse in big swift movements. When you’re excited, tired, hungry, worried, it just feels so good. I didn't envy them the prison their tics and other issues locked them in. At least my tics are mild. A lot of people who know me don’t even know I have this disorder. But it shouldn't matter if my tics are mild or extreme. I'd be me either way.

What kind of man would fall in love with a woman who claps her hands and contorts her face regularly.? Sometimes even in public. You’d be surprised. There are men who can still love you. Who still want you. Who don’t even notice and then one day say “hey, I notice you do this thing.” And when you tell them they say “that explains it” and that’s the end of the whole conversation.

When I was a little girl I was always told to “sit on my hands.” I couldn’t explain how much I wanted to not do it or how much I needed to do it to relieve the surge of energy inside me. Sometimes it was stress and negative tension. Sometimes it was adrenaline and exciting ideas. Sometimes it was suspense and the terror of not knowing. But always it was there driving me to be that freak in the back of the room.

I’m not a girl with Torrette’s. It doesn’t define me. Lots of people are surprised to even find out I have it. But, I am a girl with Torrette’s. It is a filter through which I experience my life and my emotions everyday. It doesn’t get any worse and it doesn’t get any better. It is simply the way it is.

There are the jobs I didn’t get. The boys who didn’t ask me out. The strangers who look at me with pity. Still there are the jobs I earned. That book I wrote and even won a couple of contests with. The man who married me. The family that loves me. The strangers who don’t make a thing out of it if they catch me in a hallway.

There are medications. I can’t take them, though. One has the unpleasant side effect of lowering your blood pressure. A lot. And I already have blood pressure that is too low. Another is for anxiety. They don’t like to prescribe it to people who don’t have anxiety. At least people like me, who only have the normal amount, whatever that is.

The doctor suggested I do some behavioral therapy. I could learn with years of practice to control my tics and have them come out in less obvious ways. I’m 35 years old, though. I already did that on my own. I guess life is behavioral therapy enough.

I’m not Rain Man, but, I’m not completely normal either. I guess no one is completely normal so what’s the difference, anyway? Life is what it is. You can let your limitations define you or you can define them.

How many times do I get asked per day if I'm cold? Who knows?

"No," I say with a smile, “That’s just my Torrette’s” and on I go with my business. It’s the business of moving on and focusing on the joy in my life. There isn’t any other way to live.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update on the Lake Toss

Thanks to those who sent me their opinions on this one via Facebook. It appears I'm wrong on this one! At least I can admit it. My husband is usually right, so I guess this makes sense.

I'm going to switch the object being tossed into the lake to something that belongs to the guy's father. Everyone agrees this is more realistic.

My favorite quote?

"An X-Box costs, like, a million dollars Why would anyone destroy something like that?"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tossing it in the lake

My husband and I are debating the opening of a new middle grades novel I'm working on. The question at hand is whether or not a fifteen-year-old boy with any grip on his sanity would toss a video game console into a lake in protest for being forced to go without television for a week. My husband says "no way, not unless he is a complete psycho." I think under the right circumstances and to add comic relief it could happen.