Black history month kicked off February 1st. This year I’m using the month to seek out the history of African Americans unknown to me. I’ve been researching African Americans in the 1700s and I can tell you there is quite a lot to learn. I’ll share a story, photo, quote, or other interesting tidbits.
First up is Science fiction writer Octavia Estelle Butler was the author of a dozen novels and many short stories. She also remains the only science fiction writer to ever receive a MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Grant.
Quote from Ms. Butler:
“And I have this little litany of things they can do. And the first one, of course, is to write – every day, no excuses. It’s so easy to make excuses. Even professional writers have days when they’d rather clean the toilet than do the writing.”
I was tickled when I read this quote. I can’t tell you how clean my bathrooms are when I’m trying to get a story on paper. I’m getting a bit more consistent with daily writing time. I’ve varied what I’m working on so that makes me more excited to stare at the blank page. At least it’s a different blank page for a different project. Sounds like an excuse, but its been working for me so far.
It’s been cold and rainy this Saturday and aside from an appointment with my chiropractor and nutritionist, I’ve been inside all day. Oh yeah, I also made my way to the mall to exchange a couple of things. Luckily, I didn’t get very wet and the mall trip was non-eventful. That is a wonderful thing for me since I try to avoid malls these days. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like to shop – I do! I just miss the old downtown, village shopping that I grew up with. The village still exists of course and it is a pleasure to visit if you can find a parking space and if you can manage the crowded sidewalk. I suppose many towns have evolved like that across the country, it’s just growth, and progress. Especially on Long Island.
On New Year’s Day, my husband and I took a ride out to Greenport, Long Island. I wanted to see if I could find one of the last independent bookstores on the east end. Burton’s Bookstore. They were, of course, closed for the holiday but the weather was perfect for a ride out to explore. Windy for walking, but still nice. As I took a peek through the window I could smell the books. Now you know where I’ll be going next weekend!
I will spend the rest of today working on a new manuscript. I’ll probably also get to a revision for another as I keep on track to getting more manuscripts submission ready. Cold and rainy days are made for authors, in my opinion. No outside distractions to remove me from my chair.
So, until the blank screen or notebook become less appealing than laundry, and cleaning the bathroom. I’ll be in my chair until further notice.
It’s been twenty days since our beloved Rocky went to heaven. Christmas seemed like a blur this year between his care, my grief, and family holiday expectations. Normally, I love spending time with family during the holidays but this year it was tough to keep my grief and depression from taking over. Thanks to an email from a neighbor that reminded me of Rocky’s good life with us. That helped me regain my focus. I started writing again two days ago and was able to get a picture book draft on paper that had been bouncing around in my head.
I sat down this morning to reorganize my writing. I registered for a writing workshop through the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators – SCBWI-LI group in Bay Shore next Sunday. Now have to buckle down to make sure I have something to present. I have several other manuscripts that I’ve been working on, but I need to get them submission ready. I’m off from work a couple more days so that’s the plan.
While reorganizing I came across an email that I had totally forgotten! Just after Thanksgiving, I learned that “David’s Flamingos” was nominated for a CYBIL Award in the picture book category. CYBIL – Children’s and Young Adult Literary Award.What a thing to lose track of. I was blessed to have Jeanne Conway, as my illustrator. She did such a beautiful job with the artwork. I’ve been blessed with this debut picture book.
I had trouble concentrating because our beloved family dog was ill. Rocky was diagnosed just after Thanksgiving with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). This disease is clinically similar to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in people, I was told.
I’m writing this now with tears in my eyes because Rocky passed away quietly in his sleep early this morning.
Rocky was waiting for me at the door last evening but he did not stand up right away. He wagged his tail and lifted his head to tell me hello. When he finally did rise, he let me know he needed to go outside. We did so very carefully because he had trouble walking. We came back inside where he settled into a favorite spot until he needed to go out again. I sat on pillows next to him on the floor as we watched the evening news. Rocky liked to watch TV.
My husband and I took turns going out with Rocky last night and we both knew Rocky would not be with us much longer.
We went to bed with Rocky on the floor at the foot of our bed. He had been sleeping there for the past couple weeks, instead of the living room couch. I had gotten used to waking up during the night to listen to his breathing which had been labored up to that point. At a little past 2am, I awakened to silence. As I rose from the bed to check on him I knew he was gone. I rubbed his back and covered him with a blanket.
I waited for the alarm to go off to tell my husband about Rocky. I spent the hours between 2 and 5 talking to Rocky and thinking about all the things he would be doing now in heaven. I thought, by that time all our other family pets that passed up to heaven must have greeted him.
I spent the rest of today thinking about how much we all loved Rocky and how much he loved us. We will miss him and we do already.
Merry Christmas and may you always have peace and a view from your window.
I’ve spent most of yesterday catching up on emails, cleaning up my office writing area and actually working on a manuscript. I’m working on a piece that is a little different from the picture books I generally write. This one is historical and biographical. Writing about a person’s life is harder than I thought when I began. But once I’m into something, it’s hard for me to drop it. And why would I drop this one? This character has become my friend. I refer to him as my 300-year-old friend. I have questions for him that I ask out loud as if he is going to answer me…Sometimes he does. Continue reading “Catching up.”→
This weekend I was blessed to be included in the reunion of my brother with his biological brother. That’s right, my brother met his brother.
I should have mentioned that my siblings and I are all adopted from different biological families. DNA testing kits made it possible for this event to happen. One of my sisters located her mother a few years ago. I’ve located very general information of my own biological beginnings so I’m still digging. This reunion this past Saturday affirms for me that it can be very satisfying to meet the long-lost relative or family.
This was a very special day!
My picture book, David’s Flamingos was released on May 1, 2018. I’ll be working with my publisher to host a Facebook Live event in September. I’m also working on presentations for school visits. Hopefully this will be a busy few months as we speed towards the end of the year.
Happy Birthday to those of us who value the rights and privileges that being a citizen of the United States of America allows. Those same rights and privileges that we as a country fought for and defend when necessary. Those rights that were promised to us at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Those rights that were offered to ones fleeing from persecution and atrocities. Those rights that we share not only with those native-born Americans but those coming here seeking the security and future of one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I spent three days in the Poconos at the Eastern Pennsylvania SCBWI Retreat. Three days of workshops, critiques, sharing, learning, community and meeting fellow writers and illustrators. I’m excited and inspired to get back to work on a couple manuscripts. Finding the right time to write is still challenging but I’m looking ahead to new goals.
My debut picture book, David’s Flamingos is out! Yeah, I still can’t believe I get to write those words. There was a lot of positive feedback at the workshop and it has fueled me to move forward! I’m still working on marketing, I know I’m behind so that is definitely something I need to work on.
I’m making this a short post today so that I can get myself organized for my new projects.
The official release date for my picture book, David’s Flamingos. It’s been a journey and I’d do it all again (and again). Multiple revisions, multiple submissions and plenty of hope, prayers, and love, now finally I’m published.
Thanks to my critique groups, publisher (Spork) and the wonderful illustrator, Jeanne Conway. You are my village.
I am very much behind on any marketing that I should be doing but thanks to a very loyal group of colleagues, the day was spent with many verbal reminders and other conversation about the book. All of that has fed my ambition to get something together SOON to get the sales rolling.
I’ll be at the Highlights Foundation for the North East Pennsylvania Pocono Retreat this weekend. I’ll be participating in workshops throughout the weekend but there will be time set aside for book sales. I can’t ask for a friendlier forum for my first direct sales. Wish me luck!
David’s Flamingos is a heartwarming multi-generational story that speaks to the connection and love between grandparents and grandchildren. Jeanne Conway’s illustrations are soft and endearing. She brings the text of Pam Jones-Nill to life from the very first page.
David’s Flamingos – Available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com