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1. birthday discoveries psa...

 
Readers, I have now become a woman d'un certain âge.  Many would say that with age comes wisdom; I maintain that my main function in the world is to be enthusiastic, not wise.  And yet I do have some recent discoveries to share with you--a sort of public service announcement, a list of birthday discoveries that you might not want to miss.  (And, as various Documentations of Interventions must be completed for various students exhibiting various needs for intervention, my PSA will be merely a list of thanks with links.)

0) Thanks to Mary Lee: reading must be risked (see number 11 at link) despite and because of that gone feeling you get from the ideal book for the moment.

1) Thanks to the Wyngate Arts Exhibition:   "The Cup Song" is a perfect variety show number for elementary school girls--far more appropriate than, say, "Please Don't Stop the Music."

2) Thanks to Mark and Kim at Baltimore's Area 405's Supper and a MovieParis, Texas is a film worth returning to 1984 for.

3) Thanks to DJ Ivan and lots of my friends:  dance party knows no age, and the "tea dance" is a concept that deserves a popular general update!

4)  Thanks to my mom, personal shopper:  a bright new fruit bowl can just transform one's attitude in the kitchen. 






5) Thanks to my own good sense:  on the first sunny warm afternoon of nominal spring, three spa treatments is plenty and four is just excessive.

6) Thanks to writerly friends Tabatha Yeatts and Laura Shovan:  virtual is very fine, but you can't beat lunch with Pisces persons at a nice vegan restaurant with gifties from Robyn Hood Black's artsyletters shop.

7) Thanks to British in-laws Teresa O'Brien and John White:  poets Liz Cashdan, Gillian Clarke, Rebecca Elson, Beatrice Garland, Christopher Reid.  Golly.

8)  Thanks to creative, clever, caring offspring:  coupons for fancy meals, ten-minute massages, and happy playlists.  Something to look forward to is a great gift.  (And unlinkable children is probably also a great gift.)

9) Thanks to beloved spouse:  Sonos upstairs, Sonos downstairs, Sonos all around!  Please don't stop the music.  And also The Flavour Thesaurus, a synaesthetizing thing of joy.

10)  Thanks to my juicy little universe:  gratitude is good medicine

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Kara at the intriguingly-named blog Rogue Anthropologist.  Wishing you all some of this same birthday enthusiasm this week, birthday or not!


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2. Thursday Three: Hide and Seek

Some library books I liked that helpfully fit into a theme of hide and seek. But they all also have classroom or home use for demonstrating values like working together, gratitude, and acceptance without being heavy-handed.


Come Back, Moon
by David Kherdian, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian

Beach Lane Books, 2013
Come Back, Moon
When Bear is bothered by the light of moon and can’t sleep, he steals the moon. Under the clever leadership of fox, the forest animals work together to get it back. Simple text makes this ideal for younger storytimes or even as a beginning reader book. The soft, watercolor illustrations bring to life a serene forest scene, with special acknowledgement to the orange fox — who looks so darn cute and cuddly. The book would also be useful for themes of working together and conflict resolution.


Never Ever
by Jo Empson

Child's Play, 2012
Never Ever
A girl complains that nothing exciting ever happens, yet as she walks with her stuffed bunny a world of excitement is going on around her. Flying pigs, a flower-loving gorilla, and a brave lion join her on her walk — right into a dragon’s mouth! But she continues to be unimpressed, even with one more surprise in store. The illustrations in watercolor and pencil depict a world both gentle — with the soft blues of the girl’s dress and pink of the pigs — and lively in the yellow flowers and bright green dragon. Simple in words and concept, but high in imagination, this book is an invitation to play and think about what is right in front of us.


How to Hide a Lion
by Helen Stephens

Henry Holt, 2013
How to Hide a Lion
The book sets it up nicely: “One hot day, a lion strolled into town to buy a hat. But the townspeople were scared of lions, so the lion ran away.” A little girl find the lion, and decides to help him out with a bandage, a comb-out, and mostly by hiding him. But her mom finds him, screams, and the lion runs away. Hiding himself in town, he finds an opportunity to save the day and is accepted by the townspeople. Fun story that has an actual plot line to it. The bright yellow lion is visually captivating, and the relationship with the girl is adorable. The book would also be a good example for not judging someone too quickly.



Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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3. Stepping Back into the Water

When I set off on my long-distance swim three months ago, I stepped into the surf and headed into the unknown water of brain surgery like a swimmer being carried by rapids over the steep falls ahead, hoping that I'd survive the drop and emerge safely in the calm pool of water below.  Weeks later, the first time that I sat down to write after the surgery, my head still sore and my thinking

13 Comments on Stepping Back into the Water, last added: 7/17/2013
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4. The late gratitude

Very often we find that strangers help us in the most strangest way possible.  Most of the the times we are not able to pass our thanks to them because life changes every single day with people moving on as well. Which is why I think there should be no delay in thanking someone. Three years ago, when I first sent out my first script to a dozen publishers, I got more rejections than expected. 

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5. The Sky is Officially Falling!!!

Wow--I can't believe this day is finally here!!!

I mean, I knew it was coming. I watched the numbers on my countdown widget slowly tick down to today. And I just did this five months ago with KEEPER, so you'd think I'd be more prepared for the nervous/excited/giddy/overwhelmed feeling that comes with launching a book into the world. But LET THE SKY FALL is ... special.

This was my "just for me" book. A project I started simply because I needed to fall back in love with writing. I had no plans to publish it. I didn't even tell anyone I was writing it. But the story kept growing, and the characters were so real, and the world became so vivid that I eventually reached the point where I felt like I HAD to share it--and amazingly enough, my agent and editor agreed.

Fast-forward to today, and suddenly the book I initially wrote "just for me" is now no longer mine.

That's the beautiful, magical, terrifying thing about this process. Once a book launches into the world it no longer belongs to the author. We had our time to play and explore and dream. Now it's time to hand it over to you. So... *sniffles* ... here you go...


I hope you love Vane and Audra as much as I do. And I hope their story lives up to the amazing support you all have given it.

There's no possible way to express my gratitude for everyone who's blogged / tweeted / tumbled / pinned / facebooked about their excitement for this book. Nor will I EVER be able to properly thank my amazing publisher, Simon Pulse, who have not only given it the most gorgeous cover ever (seriously, holy hotness, Batman!) but who have given so much love and energy to this project.

And to any of you who buy/read, or tell your friends that they need to buy/read, well... imagine this is me, hugging you:



A book is nothing without readers. Thank you so much for giving this story life! And if you're still on the fence about buying/reading, well... I give you THE PUPPY DOG EYES:



Also: if you're in SoCal, PLEASE come hang out tonight at the Launch Party. I will have prizes! And exclusive swag necklaces! And DESSERTS! 7pm at Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego. Full event details HERE.

28 Comments on The Sky is Officially Falling!!!, last added: 3/8/2013
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6. Illustration Friday: Stretch



Arms reaching, I stretch towards the sky
giving thanks for all that I have in my life.


acrylic on canvas from my archives.

Happy Monday!!

xo
Lo

13 Comments on Illustration Friday: Stretch, last added: 12/13/2012
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7. One. More. Week.(!!!!!)

You guys. 

YOU GUYS!

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES comes out week from today. 

ONE WEEK!

*jumps up and down*

*flails*

*PANICS ABOUT ALL THE THINGS THAT STILL MUST BE DONE!*

(ahem)

So naturally that means I have ALL KINDS OF things going on this week--number on of which is this:


The absolutely amazing Mundie Mom's have arranged an AWESOME tour, including all kinds of fun things. AND, S&S has been INCREDIBLY generous, and are giving away TEN shiny finished copies of KEEPER and TEN shiny ARCs of LET THE SKY FALL throughout the tour. Details on all of that can be found HERE

Also, if you missed it when I posted this info, I have three exciting events coming up and I'm really hoping I'll see some of you there. Here's all the details:

West Hollywood Book Fair
Sunday, September 30, 10 a.m. -- 6 p.m.
West Hollywood Library and West Hollywood Park
625 North San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA
I'll be on the Toddlers, Tweens, and Teens Stage for the Writing for InbeTWEEN Readers panel, from 12:00-12:40, with Dan Santat, Kirk Scroggs, and Eugene Yelchin. There will be a signing immediately afterward and yes, they WILL be selling copies of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. So if you're in SoCal and you're dying to get your hands on a copy a few days early please come hang out. Full event details HERE.

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES SoCal Launch 
Tuesday, October 2, 6:30 pm
Barnes & Noble 
2615 Vista Way Oceanside, CA 92054
760-529-0106
There will be rambling. And awkward hugs. And nervous giggling. And prizes! (And *whispers* some of those prizes will be ARCs of LTSF). Also: Cupcakes (because uh, this is me). So lots of reasons to come, besides just, yanno, making me love you forever!

Changing Hands signing and official launch party
Saturday, October 6, 5pm
Changing Hands Bookstore,
6428 S McClintock Dr. Tempe, AZ 85283 
480-730-0205
*NOTE: Seating for this event will be ticketed (I know--I'm shocked too!)
2 free tickets come with every pre-order, so you might want to order your copy early. Go HERE for instructions.  And the lovely people at Changing Hands have helped me put together an amazing pre-order offer. Limited edition exclusive swag packs will come with every copy of KEEPER (while supplies last) AND for every copy purchased, an additional copy will also be donated to the amazing charity, Kids Need to Read. You can find more info about that HERE

And I have a feeling I'm going to be saying this a lot over the next couple weeks (get ready for it) but... I just want to say a big giant sparkly THANK YOU to all of you for all the love and support. 

 thank-you Glitter graphics
Myspace Hi5 comments

(Say it with me: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww)

I won't ever be able to fully explain how much I appreciate all of the amazing things you guys are doing to support me, whether it be blogging / tweeting about KEEPER, emailing me your thoughts, posting reviews, telling your friends, pre-ordering, coming to my events, or simply just stopping by to cheer me on. ALL of that means SO MUCH. You have no idea.

This debuting thing is super scary, but all of the love and support you guys keep giving is making it so much less stressful. So THANK YOU. I would be a puddle of panic without you! (hows that for a lovely mental image to end on? Maybe scroll back up and look at the cuddly bear)

12 Comments on One. More. Week.(!!!!!), last added: 9/28/2012
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8. how things fit together

I'm consumed this week in finding a suitable (and yet, shall we say, practical) way to honor a grand achievement:  my parents' upcoming fiftieth anniversary.  In my search for a related poem, just as I was becoming frustrated, I found this.





































The notes say that it was composed in response to the fiftieth anniversary of the Lego patent, in 2008.  I suppose I could wish that the Lego anniversary coincided exactly with my parents' anniversary, but goodness! Isn't it pleasing when things fit together so variably, so neatly, so interlockingly coupled?

3 Comments on how things fit together, last added: 5/26/2012
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9. In which I decide to be positive...

I'm having one of those weeks. You know the kind--where everything takes 10 times longer than its supposed to in a week that was already packed with too much until it all piles on top of you and you just feel like:


Or maybe...



But instead of using this post to whine and stress and panic (I know, I'm sure you're all very disappointed about that) I thought I'd try positivity for a change. Because the thing is, I have a lot of freakishly amazing things to be grateful for.

So really, what I want to do is focus on a few things I'm especially grateful for this week--in no particular order:



The Elixir of Life!
I know you Coke fans will probably disagree with me on this--but I'm sorry, Pepsi is basically the nectar of the gods. (though in a pinch I will settle for "the other") And for those of you who want to discuss calories and chemicals and teeth staining and whatnot I gladly plug my ears and say LALALALALALA I can't hear you!





The Hubs!
(Yes, I listed Pepsi before my husband--I said this was random order!!!)
He may have questionable taste in clothing, but the  part of him that is far happier in a Shredder sweatshirt than anything else is the same part that allows him to just laugh at me when I'm freaking out  and then somehow get me to laugh too. Like yesterday, when he bought me new squinkies. Bless his immature heart.



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10. The roller coaster of change

It seems to me that the old cliche about change being the only constant in our lives is very, very true. Careers change, friends come and go, people move, they start families, we lose people we love. Nothing ever stays the same. At least not forever.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing because with change comes the New, the Unexpected, the Exciting.

This year especially has been a turning point year for me. Lots of new, unexpected, exciting things.

And lots of change.

Most of it amazing. Some of it overwhelming. But mostly it's all been such a whirlwind I've had a hard time keeping up with all the shifts and adjustments. And I know it's only the beginning. Next year is sure to bring even more incredible, unbelievable, chaotic things. And lots more change.

Honestly, I feel like I'm on that point in a roller coaster where the chain is slowly pulling my car up the steepest hill. Any second it's going to release and I'm going to be in for one heck of a wild ride. Which is awesome and scary all at the same time. But I'm committed either way. I just have to hold on tight and get ready to scream my head off.

So I wanted to take this moment and say that I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful I'm not doing this alone. I'm SO THANKFUL I have you guys.

Sure, my following has changed. It's grown. It's shifted. Different people stop by for different reasons. But you are all amazing, inspiring people and I'm thankful to have each and every one of you. As a group, you guys are my constant. You've proven to me time and again that you will be there in surprising and incredible ways and I couldn't ask for a better support system.

So thank you. Now I don't have to be on that crazy roller coaster alone. I have you all right there with me. And we can all scream our heads off together!

13 Comments on The roller coaster of change, last added: 12/2/2011
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11. Re-adjusting Thoughts on Gratitude



A few nights ago I watched a program about quantum theory; afterwards, it occurred to me that with all the possibilities available in every given moment it is amazing that anything ever goes “right”—that is, according to plan—which started me thinking about gratitude. Actually, it was in-gratitude I was contemplating.

How many of us go about our days oblivious to the many miracles happening around us but are quick to notice, and curse, the tiny mishaps? Traffic problems, a flat tire, rude clerks, power outages—they all get a “Scotch blessing”. Do you do this? I know I do! I realized that I expect everything to go “right” and when something falls short I label it “bad” as in “a bad day” or “it went wrong.” The reality is…that’s just the natural order of things. Can we learn to give the same amount of attention to the good things that happen?

I don’t know about you but I am not so adept at staying in the present moment to give praise for every green light. Until I reach that point I’ve come up with a game to remind me to be grateful. Throughout my day, each time I catch myself thinking of what has gone wrong I will stop and replace that thought with all the things that have gone right. I imagine this new habit will help relieve some of my self-induced stress. Who knows…over time it may re-awaken the childlike wonder of everyday miracles.

post and picture by Robyn Chausse


What makes you stop and give thanks? Share your everyday miracles here.

4 Comments on Re-adjusting Thoughts on Gratitude, last added: 11/26/2011
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12. Grateful

Ten years ago today, my mother and I had the good fortune to hear a special song, performed a capella at the Thanksgiving dinner table by our dear friend Anne Runolfsson. That song was John Bucchino’s “Grateful,” and we were so moved by it that we ended up collaborating with John, and the gifted artist Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen, to turn it into a picture book.

That song continues to bless our lives, especially at this time of year, and always invites me to “remember how I’m blessed.”

I have so very much to be grateful for, but here’s just a partial list… heartfelt, albeit not nearly as poetically expressed as John’s lyrics:

  • My terrific family, including my divine husband, beautiful children, and beloved parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws
  • The health and energy that enables me to live fully and maintain a lively schedule of activities, both professional and personal
  • Work that feels like play 99% of the time
  • Our hilarious dog, Louie, who brings such humor and pleasure to our lives, closes doors and drawers when we forget to, and has introduced us to so many new friends
  • Our home, which though not nearly as tidy or organized as I’d like, is a vibrant reflection of our busy, creative lives
  • Living in a coastal village that is picturesque, full of history, eccentric and enchanting all at the same time
  • The families who read and enjoy the books we write
  • The technology that makes my work faster, easier and more enjoyable (especially all things Apple!)
  • The creative colleagues whom I am so fortunate to work alongside, at Stony Brook Southampton, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and elsewhere
  • My fellow authors, whom I admire and learn from every day, including the members of the Childrens Book Hub community
  • Good friends who bring warmth, laughter and insight into our lives and days
  • All the many, many Hamilton family ‘team members’ who make a daily contribution to our lives in countless ways – from the teachers, associates and assistants to the caregivers, therapists and myriad other comrades and providers who sustain our family’s continued growth and well-being
  • The continued capacity for love, imagination, laughter, perspective, open-mindedness and wonder

Happy Thanksgiving!

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13. Step Three on the Eightfold Path

3. Right Speech
Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however it IS essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently, don't gossip and -- basically: to talk only when necessary.
Everyone knows she shouldn't lie. Everyone knows she should speak in warm, gentle tones and be friendly. Not gossiping is harder than you think. Oh, I don't gossip, you think. I don't talk about people behind their backs. For most of my adult life I have honestly believed that I NEVER engaged in gossip, never spoke negatively about people behind their backs. Then I became a Buddhist. I learned about Right Speech. It was explained to me that to truly honor the intention of Right Speech I should never talk about people at all. Good, bad or indifferent, it was not my place to discuss other people. Not my business. Okay, try going one day in the company of other people not saying one word about someone who is not there. Don't mention your mother, your sister, your children. Don't talk about the bus driver or the guy who cut you off on the way to work. Don't mention the doctor you saw, the cute baby in the stroller who kind of winked at you. What? But that was so cute! What's the harm? I don't know. There could be a hundred reasons you shouldn't mention that baby. I'm a writer and I can think of ten off the top of my head in an instant.
Right Speech is my biggest challenge every day of my life. I want to say bad things about bad drivers. Or slow drivers. Or drivers who don't use their blinkers. Why am I in such a hurry? I always leave in plenty of time. Slow down, de Helen. Breathe. Using malicious words against others -- even if they can't hear me -- means I lack moral discipline. Therefore, I have to refrain from using malicious or harsh words. It helps if I can remember that we all want the same thing in this life: we want love, we want happiness. Taking a deep breath, putting a smile on my face, these things help me maintain my moral discipline. Help me become a better person.
By the way, it's time to check in re the walking and veggie commitment. I have kept my veggie commitment and have slacked off on the walking. I let migraines and rain and cold keep me confined to the indoors. I promise to get back to the walking. Even when it is rainy and cold, when I go out and walk I always feel better about myself. And I also have the alternative of going to the gym and walking in the saltwater pool, or even (shudder) on a treadmill. So I have zero excuse. How about YOU? How are you doing? How will you do this week? I am starting my gratitude list for US Thanksgiving Day this Thursday. You?

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14. Grateful to be alive

Twenty years ago today I touched death. To be honest, I'm not terribly interested in different theories about near-death experiences; I know what I experienced, and what I believe: that sometimes, on the border between life and death, we're lucky enough to come back. For me, it was looking down from the tunnel to see my child being comforted by a stranger over the apparent death of his mother in the mangled car. I was filled with rage at the thought of dying and leaving my family, and I believe that's why I'm alive today.

I wrote about the injuries and the start of recovery, as well as the near-death experience, in Peeling the Onion. It's been a slow process, but there is now very little that I can't do. I've worked hard, but I've been exceptionally lucky too, with the therapists I've found along the way. Don't ever believe that physical recovery ceases after two years - I've improved steadily over twenty.

So, noting the date today, my first reaction was to feel sick. My second was gratitude. I've never subscribed to the theory that I need to be grateful for horrendous injuries and years of pain, because of what it 'taught' me. But I am very grateful for the life I've had around and since those traumas, and for the future that I still have. 

5 Comments on Grateful to be alive, last added: 9/25/2011
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15. Kevin Smokler: Promotion is an Expresstion of Gratitude

by Deren Hansen

Authors often wince when they come to understand just how much they need to promote their work. I confess to being in that camp, particularly when it sounds like we're expected to go out and convince people to read our books.

That's why I was quite taken with Kevin Smokler (co-founder and CEO of BookTour.com) and his idea that promotion is fundamentally an expression of gratitude. In that vein, I want to thank Nick James, who blogs at The Spectacle and posted the following
"I think the word “promotion” sends a shiver down many people’s backs. At its worst, it connotes a situation where an author is more or less trying to shove a product down readers’ throats. Very few people want to feel like salesmen. And not everybody is skilled in that area. That’s why Kevin’s definition struck me so strongly.

"Promotion, he says, is primarily “an opportunity to meet people who are interested in your book and thank them for their interest.” Or, more succinctly, it’s “an expression of gratitude and graciousness.” [source]
On Nick's recommendation, I listened to all of Dan Blank's interview with Kevin Smokler at We Grow Media. I recommend you do the same. Kevin has a number of interesting things to say about the changing role of the author in book promotion and about the industry in general.

I'm going to add the phrase, "Promotion is an opportunity to meet people who are interested in your book and thank them for their interest," to my list of mantras.


Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.

1 Comments on Kevin Smokler: Promotion is an Expresstion of Gratitude, last added: 8/20/2011
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16. Offerings and Gratitude


With all my traditional holiday touches, it seems I left an important feature unadorned. This beautiful statue of Buddha once sat in my zen garden in California. I don't dare place him outside here because a hard freeze could cause him to split, and I can't keep moving him because he weighs over 100 pounds. So here he has sat in a corner of my dining room for the past year.
He's a bit out of place, really. But I get to walk past him every day and when I pause to dust him off a feeling of gratitude always washes over me.
So today I gave him an offering. I was looking for a place to put my dollar store snowflakes and then said, "Aha! A perfect mandala!"

And as for gratitude, much of it stems from my blog relationships that have formed over the years. Some of you I have met in person where hugs sealed special bonds. Some of us have spoken on the phone, shared laughter and tears, exchanged gifts, and sent cards for no reason other than to let the other know they're loved and thought of.
I'm truly grateful for all of you, even occasional visitors and art critics.

May your Christmas, Kwaanza, Hannukah, Buddhist or non-religious winter celebration be all you need it to be.

As for me, I'm just going to continue to appreciate the magic around me and try to keep myself open for an inspiring new year.

~Winter Blessings and Love~
Lolo♥

  

14 Comments on Offerings and Gratitude, last added: 12/27/2010
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17. Thank you!

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’m feeling extra grateful. I love my job and I love my life, and I’m thankful for all the people who helped me make my dream a reality. In particular, I’d like to thank:

* My readers. It’s no fun writing into the void, so I’m grateful that you keep coming back to read the Renegade Writer blog. It’s my mission to help writers reach their goals, whether your dream is to get started or to quit your 9-5 job or to boost your writing income. It’s so gratifying when I hear from a reader that my advice helped her in some way.

* My mentors. I’m not afraid to ask for help, and even to pay for it. My life coach, the instructor of the Yoga of Writing retreat, my close writer friends, my goal buddy, and the writers who answer my questions on Twitter and Facebook have been instrumental to my success. They give me advice, listen to my rants, help me find sources and markets, and help me brainstorm new and better ways to do things.

* My editors and copywriting clients. Thank you for continuing to hire me for your writing projects. I love working with every one of you. Without you, well, I wouldn’t have a writing career. I’ll always work my hardest to make your jobs easier.

* My clients and students. I always recommend diversifying, not only to keep your income secure but also because writing, writing, writing can be a grind. Teaching my e-course and doing phone mentoring have been so much fun. Teaching lends variety to my career, and of course I really enjoy interacting with writers at all different stages of their careers. That people actually pay me for my advice is like some wonderful dream!

* My sources. I so appreciate that sources take the time to participate in my articles. Even when my editors ask me to go back to them with a dozen additional questions during the revise phase or when fact checkers call them with lengthy checks, they’re always gracious.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! What are you grateful for this year? [lf]

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18. My mushy post of gratitude

I love Thanksgiving, and not just for the football and turkey, although I am a borderline obsessive NFL fan.. NOTE: My hubby just told me I should cross out the borderline part, but hey, it's my post. Why I love Thanksgiving is that I'm in favor of any holiday that celebrates gratitude. It's too easy to get caught up in the day to day life hassles and forget how darn lucky we are. Even on the rough days, I try to name one small thing I'm grateful for each day. It keeps things in perspective.



Here are a few things I'm grateful for and how they relate to writing (don't worry, I'll explain the helmet)::


1) Where I live. Any time I'm outside and spot the snow-capped mountains in the distance, I feel gratitude for living here in Colorado. (I swear there is creativity in the air here, or maybe it's the drinking water.) Either way, my writing and my hubby's music have grown in leaps and bounds since moving here.

2) My kidlets. Whenever I hear my children laugh, I feel so lucky to be the mom of these two amazing little humans. Also, my 6-yo son tells people that I'm a writer. Never mind that I earn my income as a clinical psychologist. Never mind that I'm not published and don't have an agent. My 3-yo thinks I'm a writer solely because that's what my 6-yo tells her. I love that kid!

3) My ability to write. As I mentioned in this post, I'm extremely grateful for my ability to spend my evenings writing, rather than say working triple shifts in a factory somewhere just to keep food on my table. My hubby is the most supportive person on the planet and allows me to be the best person/mother/wife/writer I can be. He's also my first beta reader and gives amazing advice.

4) My critique groups (The Critiquers and my lovely Sisters) are made of total awesome. They're wise, talented, strong women who are a constant source of strength and support. And they give me a kick in the ass when I need it. What more could you ask for? 

5) The Kansas City Chiefs. (hence the helmet picture) If any of you out there have ever loved a team that has surprised you with its ability to disappoint you year after year, then you feel my pain.This year, my team has actually won more games than they've lost. Are they a Super Bowl team? No. Would Mike Vick kick their asses all over the field? Absolutely. But they're better than they were last year--and the year before. It's all about baby steps, just like in writing. I'm a better writer this year than I was a year ago, and I finished my second book last month. I'm taking baby steps toward that Super Bowl.  

What about you? What are you grateful for this week?

6 Comments on My mushy post of gratitude, last added: 11/24/2010
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19. Thankful Thursday: Catching up with gratitude




I have a huge list this week because I've fallen behind. Stay with me, it's worth it!
This smiling face is a hand drawn card from Mim with a little note about the collage below, saying she thought of me and had to send it to me! You know I love this raven collage!! I'll have to let the artist know how much I 'adore' it!

Thank you Mim!!! xoxo


Up next is this happy yellow ginham bag adorned with a sparkly butterfly in a brown package from the Netherlands.
It was filled with goodies from Marianne and her friend Marja's  from their trip to Hong Kong.
It has a wonderful smelling sachet and a lovely silken drawstring bag with butterflies... 

And this gorgeous pashmina from Marja which matches my eyes! You should see the pattern. Click to enlarge it! The photographs don't do it justice because I took them in terrible lighting.
I gasped when I opened the gift!
13 Comments on Thankful Thursday: Catching up with gratitude, last added: 3/5/2010
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20. Succulent Saturday - Completions...

What a couple of BIG BIG sighs of relief
I've been able to breathe this week -

First of all, after months (more accurately years) of working on the Wind Dancer series, I *finally* painted the last painting and Fedexed off the last piece of art. It took extra-extra late nights of working - and I ended up pulling an all-nighter to get it finished/scanned/covered/packaged. Got to bed after 8:30am the following morning - I think that's a personal record!

Secondly, while I was sleeping off the all-nighter, the kitchen fairies came and installed the countertops and sink! A few hours later, my fix-it guy came and hooked up all the plumbing and did all the finish-work. After waiting the 24 hours for it all to dry, we now have a working sink, disposal, and dishwasher. I must say, life is much, much easier now. I've ordered fancy-schmancy cabinet pulls and knobs and there are a couple of little odds and ends, but it is essentially *done*. Big, big hooray.

I can now take a bit of a breather to catch up on things like sleep, and housecleaning, and seeing my family, and The Garden! In fact, I got to import my mother for a week to help me with long term garden planning and organization (she's very good at this sort of thing, and I find I am still pretty much without a brain, so all help in that arena is appreciated!)

And if things go well, I may even get to go out and *read* blogs again. I've missed being more two-sided the last several months. Hope to see you soon.

8 Comments on Succulent Saturday - Completions..., last added: 3/15/2010
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21. Thankful Thursday: Mellow Yellow


This post has taken a turn from my original plans. I was going to post some goodies I was lucky to receive from some of you wonderful ladies, but now that I opened my mail not fifteen minutes ago I knew I had to make this post about Renee.
I promised myself to always keep fresh yellow flowers in my studio as a way of always having her spirit with me. Yellow was her favorite color and she adored fresh flowers.
So after putting the flowers in water I go to the mailbox and there's a package from Margaret at Waterblossoms. Most of you already know her and love her as I do.
She did a post about Renee (here) on March 15th. Margaret really picked up on the essence of Renee's spirit immediately and conveyed it beautifully in her post and in the beautiful ATC she painted.
Today, as part of the package she sent me is the original ATC and printouts of the post and all the comments and a beautiful card thanking me for introducing her to Renee.
This is the original ATC in all its glory. It's a sight to behold in person, really.
Peg said that as she painted it it was as if she had a butterfly on her shoulder telling her muse what to do, line by line, brushful by brushful. She went on to write,
"It sang of renewal and light and rebirth...it sang of the lessons I personally gleaned from Renee...it sang of a free spirit and serenity. This original belongs to you~I will have it no other way...thanks for sharing Renee with me!" Peg ♥
Thanks so much Peg. You have no idea how much that moved me.
This is the stunning card and envelope it came in. Sorry for the shadows, I was just trying to find some natural light and the kitchen was the only sunny spot.
More goodies from her (and more shadows!)
8 Comments on Thankful Thursday: Mellow Yellow, last added: 3/21/2010
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22. Roadtrip to hang out with me!!


My friends Ellen Yeomans and her husband Chris Arnold lost their daughter Paige to leukemia in 1994, just before she was due to start third grade. Frankly, I don't know how they found the strength to go on after that. But they are amazing people. They did not simply find a way to live. They found a way to keep Paige's spirit alive and help other families who have a child struggling with cancer or a catastrophic illness.

Chris explains the whole story in a recent article. Read it with Kleenex.

Every year they coordinate Paige's Butterfly Run; a family-oriented 5K and Fun Fitness 3K Run/Walk. Last year they raised $140,000. This year's goal is $150,000. If they make that goal, they will have raised ONE MILLION DOLLARS for children's cancer since 1997.

Here's a recent news program about the run.

Isn't that amazing??

Am I going to be there? You bet! So will Queen Louise and various and sundry people we are related to.

If you live within 150 miles of Syracuse, you should join us. Heck, it's going to be a nice weekend - if you live within 300 miles of me, you should make the trek.  If running is not your favorite thing, then walk the 3K course; that's only 1.8 miles. Or just show up to watch (and donate!) After the run you can enjoy the Taste of Syracuse; a downtown food festival
140 different vendors and restaurants, great wines from the State of New York, three stages of live music.

If you're in the mood to read than to run or walk, you can still help. The Syracuse-area Barnes & Noble stores (in Dewitt and Clay) will donate a portion of any books sold this weekend as long as you print out and use the voucher that you can download on the Butterfly Run's website.

But wait! There's more!! I am in a writer's group with Ellen and so is.... Bruce Coville.

To raise money for Paige's Butterfly Run, Bruce Coville will be signing books at the Barnes & Noble in Clay on S
aturday June 5th from 4-6 PM.

I will be signing books at the
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23. Thankful Thursday: My Morning Walk


Today I'm keeping my post short and sweet.
I woke up to the most glorious, crisp fresh air and wispy clouds which made for a perfect walk. I thought I'd share a bit of my view with you today.
I'm thankful for the hint of Autumn in the air. It has put the spring back in my step!
Here are a few more pictures of this morning's walk.

 




I hope your day is as lovely as mine is turning out to be ♥

16 Comments on Thankful Thursday: My Morning Walk, last added: 9/10/2010
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24. And Now I Have a Bird Head

When I found out I was nominated for the Last Drink Bird Head award, I thought the other folks in my category were so immensely talented and deserving that it was inconceivable -- INCONCEIVABLE! -- that I could win. Jeff VanderMeer asked me to appoint someone to accept the award in my absence should I win, and also to write an acceptance speech in case I happened to need one. I got busy and forgot about this request, and remembered a couple days ago and thought, "No, there's no way."

And then I won.

So here I am, like the occasional Oscar winner who doesn't write a speech because there's just no way in heckapalooza they could win, and then they do, and they speak extemporaneously and bizarrely, and everyone then thinks, "Wow, that person is a bird brain!"

Here, after the fact, is my extemporaneous acceptance speech upon winning the Last Drink Bird Head award in the category of "Expanding Our Vocabulary":
Oh wow. Gosh. Wow. Okay. So, uh, yikes, you know, I didn't actually, ummm, think I'd like, uh, win? The award? But here I am, so, uhhhhh, yeah! Wow! Man, these things are heavier than they look! Oh, so I should, ummm, there are -- there are people I have to thank! Right! I couldn't be here today without, of course, my parents, who made me, and ummmm, right -- and I have a dog! No, I don't have a dog. I don't even really like dogs. I've been thinking about getting another cat, because my old cats died and-- Wait, the red light's going on, that means I have to, like, wrap it up, right? But there are so many people to thank without whom I couldn't be here today! The person who invented the Internet for instance -- whoever you are -- thank you! And and and -- oh, the music, that means------ [MUSIC RISES]
When the awards were handed out, I was actually up in northern New Hampshire and Vermont with Eric Schaller, Mr. Last Drink Bird Head himself (for the whole story, you have to read the book). Little did we know that we were celebrating!

Thank you to the mysterious cabal of advisors to the award; I am really and honestly grateful -- amazed! -- that the various work I've done has found an appreciative audience.

5 Comments on And Now I Have a Bird Head, last added: 10/28/2010
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25. Thank your lucky beans

Birtha, Becky. Lucky Beans. Albert Whitman, 2010.

Who wants beans? Marshall’s family, like many others living through the Depression, is lucky to have food on the table. That doesn’t stop Marshall from growing tired of having beans every night, though.

Some welcome excitement bubbles up after the family hears about the contest at Kaplan’s Furniture Store. Guess the number of beans in the jar and win a new sewing machine! Marshall knows someone who’s good with numbers and who’s been wanting a sewing machine — Ma. He can’t help but wonder if this contest is open to all people, not just to whites. Reassured by fair-minded Mr. Kaplan, Marshall is ready for action. Together, the family members tackle the problem, using the estimation techniques Marshall has learned at school. The day arrives when Mr. Kaplan announces the winner. The jar contains 53,293 beans — just 13 more than Ma guessed. She gets to take home that shiny black sewing machine. In no time, she’s putting it to good use and earning money.

This likable picture book is a natural to use with units on estimating, the Depression, or the trait of industriousness. As with Grandmama’s Pride, her first picture book, Birtha notes she was inspired by recollections of her grandmother — who actually did win a sewing machine in a similar contest.

More Books Featuring Industrious Characters

Galdone, Paul. The Little Red Hen. Clarion, 2006. Every child should hear this classic, retold with sass and rhythm by Galdone and illustrated with lively humor. Then share another, newer version that emphasizes cooperation: The Little Red Hen: An Old Fable by Heather Forest. Discuss with children the similarities and differences between the two and ask which they prefer, and why.

Galdone, Paul. The Three Little Pigs. You know which one built the best house. Compare the classic with an Appalachian version,  The Three Little Pigs and the Fox by William H. Hooks, in which sister Hamlet saves her silly brothers. S.D. Schindler’s finely detailed paintings add to the fun.

McDonald, Margaret Read. Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale. Marshall Cavendish, 2010. An old woman complains, “Work! Work! Work! How I hate it!” But after noisy fairies invade her home to do her chores, she decides work might not be so bad after all. The watercolor illustrations by Susan Mitchell are fun, but it’s McDonald’s use of repetition and onomatopoeia that make this tale lively and engaging.

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