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Creative Chaos Award

Three weird things I do:
  • I have an inflated sense of “luckiness“.  Really.  For the longest time, almost every time I entered a drawing at a school or community event, I’d win.  One time I went to watch my friend’s daughter perform in community theater and I told her, matter-of-factly, that I’d win the basket drawing and give it to her and her daughters.  She said she NEVER wins so she didn’t think I’d win, just by proximity of her bad luck.  I smiled confidently and said to Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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WIP – story of my life! :)

My first writer’s conference was amazing! I can’t believe I waited all these years to attend one, but I don’t believe in coincidences.

The opening speech was by Jay Asher,  who wrote “Thirteen Reasons Why“. It’s a YA novel on the  New York Times bestseller (for 60 weeks in a row, I think). His speech was hilarious as well as inspirational.   With his easy charm and great humor, he shared his story as an aspiring author and entry into the publishing world. I learned that you may start out writing one genre and end up discovering that you’re more gifted in an entirely different one.

Other speakers included editors and an agent. I learned a lot from all of these women.  It was great to see them as real people, instead of “the agent” or “publishers”. One main message I got from the editors is: use an agent – they very rarely publish a new author who doesn’t have an agent. Also, make sure it’s well written because the competition is huge. I just had to look around the conference room to bring this message home.  Another message is that my WIP (work in progress) is seriously in need of more revisions!! 🙂 More on this later.

The main message I got from the agent was that she had to believe in the manuscript to be able to sell it. I can totally understand this. This brings up another message: send ms to several agents because they are all individuals with different tastes.

In the middle of all this, I was fortunate to make the lottery for a chapter critique by Jay Asher! He was just as funny and nice during our one-on-one meeting. He made a line-by-line edit of my first chapter and ms synopsis, which was more than I expected. He had great advice and overall was quite positive. Thanks Jay! It was refreshing to hear his opinions and I felt encouraged to keep at it.

My revisions, based on the critique, were not too bad; I was able to make the changes as soon as I got home. However, I decided to shake things up some more and it is still a WIP. I’m even considering writing something new in a different genre just for the fun of it. And, writing is fun — I’m loving the process!  As much as it would be amazing to get published, I’m loving the ride along the way.

~~Maggie

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2010 in Funny, Writing

 

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Update on editing manuscript

Editing is almost finished on my first manuscript! Whew!  I look back  and it probably took me just as long to edit it as it did to write it.  In all fairness, though, I did take some time away from it to have a fresh look at it.  (This works, by the way!)

I know every writer has his/her own method for editing and there may be some fast rules on it — that’s all great & nothing wrong with it.  Other than the usual editing grammar, etc., this is how I went about it:

*I started an informal critique group of family & friends — since several of them do not live locally, it was mostly individually and via email/phone calls. I found that some of my best critiques came from educators (media specialist, learning interventionist).  They have a grasp of what kids read and were very good about telling me when I was off mark.  Every critique was helpful and appreciated.  It was also great to have readers with a wide range of backgrounds,  since it’s a multicultural book.

*I printed out several manuscripts in “booklet” form with a feedback sheet and a wonderful 5th grade teacher passed them to some of her students.  It was anonymous so I could get honest feedback.  This was the best! I loved reading their (mostly) great comments and each one encouraged me to publish it because “this book was awesome!”  I highly recommend this if you have a willing teacher.  In fact, I may do this again once my final editing is completed.

*I paid an excellent professional editor and it was worth every cent.  She was thorough and great about providing explanations for certain suggestions.

In the beginning of my editing process, I attempted to join/form a writer’s critique group, but not enough people showed up.  Later, when I was invited to an existing local group, I had schedule conflicts.  Honestly, I didn’t pursue this avenue too much, but I’ve heard of wonderful writer’s critique groups and may still join one for the fun of it.  I love learning from other writers – a great bunch!

Now that I’m this close to being agent-ready, I’m super excited about the possibilities!

~~Maggie

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Family, Uncategorized, Writing

 

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Guilty pleasures

Heroes  – season finale is tomorrow night and…..I CAN’T WAIT!!  I’m totally hooked!  I don’t care what the critics say, I’m still a loyal fan.  The cast is impressive and the plot is entertaining.

American Idol –  yes, the audition stage is painful sometimes, but I like the touching stories and there are some great singers –  oh yeah, I laugh at some of the contestants — one word: delusional!  Some are downright ridiculous, I mean, come on, bikini guy?

Real Housewives series – right now it’s Orange County — each season seems to get a little over the top, but the women prove that money doesn’t buy happiness nor friendship.

Grey’s Anatomy – it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, but I’m a loyal fan – the characters have grown on me, what can I say?

90210 – yes – I know it’s not like the original (and yes I watched that one eons ago) but I like this one too.  Too bad I have to wait until March for the new episodes.

Dollhouse – so sad it was cancelled….good acting and much better than some other shows on the air — who makes these decisions? 😦

new shows:  Modern Family and The Middle – love both! The Middle has some great characters and I think the writers are VERY creative!

Good thing I have DVR!

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2010 in Funny, TV, Uncategorized, Writing

 

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The other three letter word nobody wants to be called…

Not FAT….I’m talking about getting OLD.  It’s funny how we fight it, but we’re all getting a little older every day.  Regardless of what skin care or vitamins you take, you’ll still get older…if you’re lucky.

My birthday’s coming up and I always get reflective at this time.  It’s a great age for that.   (ssh…I’ll never tell).  It’s like I’m standing on a time line where I can turn my head one way and glance  back at my life’s memories and then turn my head the other way and look forward to new ones.   The realist in me knows that I need to take each day as it comes and live it to the fullest, because sometimes we don’t have as many years left as we hope for.  My sister-in-law, JoAnn, died at the age of 44.  I’m learning (at my ripe old age) to live in the NOW, but with plans for my golden years.

I think about all the times I’ve said, “just kill me before I turn 90.”  My friends and family laugh when I say this, but they usually nod and agree that getting old is tough.  We all have stories about aging parents, grandparents or relatives and we hate to see them suffer, especially when they become incoherent.  It’s sad to see anyone’s life end with such little dignity.

I was in this reflective mood as I was putting away our fine china, which we used for our Thanksgiving feast.  It’s a lovely set which was handed down from my husband’s late grandmother, Jane.  Each piece is in beautiful shape and still gleams, as if it was brand new.  Obviously, it was handled with care through the years and I am honored that the set made its way into our home.

Grandma Jane was an interesting lady who told us wonderful stories about going to a speakeasy and the Great Depression.  She was petite and had blue sparkly eyes that lit up when she spoke.  When her husband was alive, they decided that he may die first and they sold their house and bought an assisted living condo.  He didn’t want her to struggle after he died.   It was perfect for them.  They were able to have the freedom of living on their own, as well as the security of having someone nearby, just in case.  The facility had a large cafeteria, which doubled as a meeting place and Jane liked to play cards with the other residents.   Also, they were in walking distance of a 24 hour store and they could take a shuttle bus on day trips.  I loved visiting them with my daughter (who was an infant at the time).

Now, they had the right idea about getting old.  It’s going to happen — plan for it.  Don’t be too proud to accept help when you need it and be realistic — you’ll need an alternative way of getting around.  Grandma Jane died not too long after her husband did.  I still think it was more of a broken heart, since they were inseparable when he was alive.  It was sad to see her go since I would’ve liked my kids to get to know her.  This is why I make sure my kids get to know their living grandparents.

My parents live a few thousand miles away and each time we visit, I see more signs of aging.  My mom walks a lot slower and she seems to have shrunk.  My dad’s memory is diminishing and each time, he tells the same story as if it was the first time.   It’s sad, but I know it’s part of life and the good news is that they are still with us.  We can still hug them and love them.  We can still listen to old stories (and pretend we’ve never heard them).  My dad loves to sit outside and breathe in the air from his trees as he listens to music on the radio.  My mom’s eyes light up when she tells me about a story she wrote — she’s a very creative writer.

My kids are also getting to know my husband’s dad, who lives near us.  He’s a self-described ‘dinosaur’ and a Godly man.  I  know that I am blessed to still have my parents and my father-in-law still around.  My kids never met their grandma on my husband’s side.  She died when she was only 59 years old and her death was sudden.

Instead of thinking of old age as doom and gloom, I choose to look at it as a blessing.  No one knows how long they will live and each year is a blessing.  I appreciate it more now, after JoAnn’s death.  Now, I pray that I get old.  I want to be like Grandma Jane and tell stories of my youth.  I want to be like my mom and continue to write stories.  I want to be like my dad, who appreciates music and soft breezes.  I want to be like my father-in-law, who finds humor in getting old.

Just like the fine china,  I will “handle with care” and hope that my eyes are still sparkling for the next generation.  This birthday, I will be happy that I’m one year older and have an amazing family and friends to share my life with right now.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2009 in Aging, antiques, Family, Holidays, Writing

 

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Nanowrimo update…9 days and counting

The pressure’s on and I’m way behind on my nanowrimo word count – yikes!  I scratch my head and wonder if all the other things I write can count toward the word count….hmmm…guess not.  It has been a huge challenge — writing without editing.  Sometimes, my fingers start hitting the delete button and I have to freeze and just…continue typing.  The writing is turning out to be quite creative and very strange.   Some days I really like what I wrote and other days, not so much.

Writing is a lot like running a race.  You just keep running, even when you still can’t see the finish line.  Your lungs start to burn a little and you keep telling yourself to keep going.  It’s mind over matter and you can’t let negative thoughts take over.  Then, just when you zone out with a favorite song on your Ipod, the finish sign is in sight.  You quicken your pace and sprint the rest of the way.  It’s not so much the speed, for me, but the feeling of accomplishment.

Writing on Nanowrimo is interesting and I’m glad I started.   Somehow, I will reach the word count (race) and even if the product doesn’t win any contests, the process is a learning experience and I’ll be so glad when I sprint to the finish line.

Now — back to writing…

~~Maggie

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Posted by on November 21, 2009 in Writing

 

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This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank a teacher!

teach

Thank You, Teacher

T hank you for your
E agerness to teach
A nd
C are for our children,
H elping us in
E ducating them to be
R esponsible, respectable people

~~author unknown

It’s that time of year when you meet face to face with the people who spend all day with your children.  They see them at their best and they see them at their worst.  It’s parent-teacher conference time!

This afternoon, I went to my son’s parent/teacher/student conference and it just confirmed how I already felt about his teachers: they are excellent.  A couple of teachers really stood out.  They are the kind that students will remember forever.  They are creative and fun; they make learning an adventure.  On top of all that, they really get this age and the students strive to be their best.  They truly bring out the best in their students.  I can see the difference they’ve made in my son’s life and I am so thankful for them.

Of course, this made me reflect on the teachers that made a difference in my life.  The cobwebs in my memory don’t let me recall their names, but I’ll never forget how they taught me to read, write and especially how to love both.  They encouraged me and said I had “a lot of potential”.  I am sure my go-getter attitude partly stems from this encouragement.

I am also blessed to be around excellent teachers all day.  As an ELL parapro with 42 students throughout the school, I am in the unique position of going in several classes ranging from K – 5.  These teachers are really dedicated and caring.  I know they make a difference in these little lives.

This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank your child’s teacher.  After all, they need a little encouragement too.

~~Maggie

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Posted by on November 12, 2009 in Teaching

 

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