Viral Ice Buckets

So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since this whole #IceBucketChallenge got started and it makes me proud. Proud that so many people in such a seemingly calloused world stand up and make a difference. Sure, it’s a fun way to donate and raise awareness…I mean, who doesn’t want to shock their systems with a cold shower to the noggin?…but you still have to do it.

And do it, we have.

To the tune of $88.5 million in the days between July 29 and August 26. (Figures found on the ALS site this morning)

But that’s not the best thing. One point nine million new donors have emerged during this time and millions more have watched the countless videos circulating in the cybersphere.

Awareness goes a long way in the daily living of ALS patients. While many of those currently diagnosed with ALS may not see the benefit of these generous donations, the support that has been shown to the ALS community cannot be measured. Nor can the outpouring of funds be dismissed for the much-needed research to alleviate the symptoms of ALS and help find a cure in the future. 

Wouldn’t it be lovely if all the good ideas and compassion we have bottled up inside could go viral every day? We could inundate the world with peace and love and hope in a mere 30 days. (I hear a Miss America speech in here somewhere : ) 

But of course, there are the naysayers. Every cause has one (yes, you dolled-up, plastic surgeried actress with the fake implants and new lips, I’m talking to you). And the trolls…you know, the people who deliberately antagonize and create heartache in the midst of all things good. For every uplifting or heartbreaking story, a thread or a post exists to rip it apart. Yet despite the ratio of good to bad, these cruel comments have more power than all the good vibes floating around. We just have to see past the trash talk and focus on the generosity of spirit that we have within us. We have to peek at the reality behind the bite and understand that some people just like to rain on others’ parades. And when we can do this, we can accomplish anything.

So, thanks to those who have donated. Thanks to those who have soaked themselves in freezing water for a cause they didn’t know existed. Thanks to all you wonderful people who are smothering the voices of the naysayers with your good deeds and generous hearts.

Go viral. One bucket at a time!

What is your cause? If you could pick anything at all to go viral what would it be and why?

Curious minds want to know.

P.S. Mine would be literacy.

 

Moments to Bloom

This year was tough on my garden. Due to the excessive rains and our clay-filled soil, my perennials experienced a lot of root rot, and I had to replace established plants in my flower beds. Then, I came home from up north over the Fourth of July weekend and found my hostas blooming. A peek in the Farmer’s Almanac supports my hostas’ proclamation via a forecasted mid-October snowfall. “Fall is right around the corner.

I hate shortened summers in part because I love flowers so much. My yard is filled with thousands of blooms in varying shades of pink, purple, blue and yellow. I try to mix perennials that bloom at different times and add in a healthy dose of annuals so I always have something flowering from spring through fall. When my iris die off, my lilies take over followed by an end show from my mums. Each plant takes its turn in the spotlight before making way for the next blossoms.

Some bloom longer than others. Some are brighter or more fragrant. Some appeal to niche gardeners while others seem more universal. Every garden, like every book store, has hybrids and purebreds, quick blooms or hardy evergreens.

Books and blooms. These are the things I live for. All of them have a special season. They challenge us, soothe us and keep us hopeful.

As my reading place will migrate from the deck to the fireplace, I wonder what new books will bloom in time for fall reading. I have my eye on a few that are yet to hit bookstores for the first time, as well as some tried and true classics I’d like to revisit.

In the book world, are you more partial to perennials that hang around year after year, or are you enticed by the newness of annuals? Which do you enjoy more, the ones “everybody” is reading or the offbeat gems that are kitche and unique? What’s blooming on your TBR list now?

Curious minds want to know.

P.S. For my writerly friends, I’ve got a post up over at From the Write Angle blog.

Invasion of the Trained Cyber Monkeys

I’m not sure whether to be amused or offended. After writing an email to my critique partner, I hit send.

Gmail: Did you forget to attach a document? You wrote “I attached” in your email.

Me: What the flippity flop is my email server doing reading my outgoing mail?

I never gave the trained gmail monkey permission to read my stuff. Yet there he was, pointing out that I am stupid. Or forgetful. Or whatever you want to call it.

Personally it makes me feel awkward. Like I don’t want to bring my technology into the bathroom, or the bedroom, or the office, or anywhere with me. I want a little privacy to make my own mistakes and my own decisions. And above all, I don’t want a computer program logging all of my cyber clicks, analyzing them and telling me what my next move should be.

Has Big Brother come home to roost, you tell me? In your opinion, has technology gone too far? Do you appreciate the friendly reminders and nudges and recommendations that the trained cyber monkeys send your way? Or, are you like me and seriously debating whether or not to turn off the invisible wires that connect you to things you don’t understand and never asked for?

Curious–and slightly offended–minds want to know.

Broken Record Call for Submissions

Okay, writing peeps, it’s now or never. If you want to help kids overcome the bullying in their lives, Elephant’s Bookshelf Press needs your short stories.

  • Who: anyone with a story to tell that will help kids 7-12 years old navigate the treacherous waters of bullying
  • What: a maximum of 2,500 words told by the bully, the bullied or the bystander, with a complete story arc and appropriate resolution
  • When: by February 15th
  • Where: send to catwoods.writer@gmail.com
  • How: write, edit, submit, wait to be accepted. Published authors will receive a byline, links and a free copy of the anthology.

It’s that easy.

Lessons from a Ten Pound Ruler

Stella HuntingMy mornings used to be kid-centric. Get up. Get ready. Go to school. Simple, as long as Middle would brush his teeth the first time around, Youngest wouldn’t throw a fit about wearing jackets in forty degree weather and Dear Daughter had her morning coffee. Thankfully Eldest is self-sufficient in college…though now that he’s no longer under my direct care, I often wonder if he’s brushing his teeth, wearing his jacket and eating right at all.

Then along came Stella.

Ten pounds of fluff has changed our morning household. I could describe all the cute things Stella does, but it would be worse than describing how wonderful my kids were when they were the cutest babies in the world. All four of them.

You see, we do that, parents and grandparents. We dote on the little things that only we find adorable while everyone else looks on with glazed eyes and gives us bobble-head affirmations.

But this little dog has a trait I admire. Every morning she rides along when I drop the kids off at school.

Big deal, you might say. And, normally I would agree. However, Stella does this despite hating car rides. She despises them so much she shakes the minute we step into the garage. It is clearly painful for her, yet she is compelled to see her kids off each and every day.

I don’t force her to come. I don’t even ask. I simply get my shoes on when it’s time to go, and she stands by my feet until I pick her up and carry her to the car. She refuses to let us leave without her.

She’s dedicated. She’s determined. She’s courageous. I don’t know where she gets the gumption to put herself through this trauma, but I admire it.

As a writer, as a mom, as a human being, I wouldn’t mind ten pounds of dedication, determination and courage to jumpstart my days.

How about you? What would you like in abundance every day to help you accomplish the things you need to get done?

Curious minds want to know.

Seemingly Small Changes Can Add Up BIG Time

I’m polishing up a short story for the middle grade anti-bullying anthology (details found in this post here), and just got feedback from a writer friend of mine.

“First person, maybe?”

Yeah, first person, definitely. It took him to point it out, but as soon as I started reworking my 2,500 words, I knew he was dead right. And so I started revising with a vengeance.

Katy I peered into her my lunchbox…

By the time I finished, I must have had a thousand and one changes. It was tedious. And I missed a lot the first time around. I still probably have some third person where it should read first.

This isn’t a simple matter of find/replace. Story telling is too nuanced for that. It requires a reread of every sentence–nay, every word–to keep the style, voice and story cohesive. The change, while seemingly minute, was actually huge.

In writing, there are a thousand and one minute changes that all add up to lots o’ work. It’s called editing. And if you don’t have patience for it, you will never be a writer. Getting that rough draft on paper is the easy part. Polishing it is a challenge worth accepting.

You never know, it could make the difference between seeing your words in print or lining the bottom of the bird cage.

Other things that add up big time:

  • The writer who pointed out my POV mistake? Steven Carmen. His debut novel, Battery Brothers is set to release in March. Steve has been a critique partner of mine on several projects and I value his opinion almost as much as I look forward to holding his baseball novel in my hands.
  • Battery Brothers shares the same publisher as Whispering Minds, a YA novel that Steve also critiqued. Currently, author A.T. O’Connor has teamed up with four other authors for a romantic novel giveaway just in time for Valentine’s Day. Giveaway details here.
  • A.T. O’Connor and I both have short stories published in the Season Series by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. The last one, Winter’s Regret, is due out any day!
  • Lastly, EBP has invested time and energy into a new anthology for middle grade readers. I alluded to it above and posted on it before, but in case you missed it, I am the acquisitions editor on the project and will be accepting short story submissions (2,500 words or less) for readers 7-11 on bullying to be told in the POV of the bully, the bullied or the bystander. Stories must have a clear resolution and must be emailed to me by February 15. So, what are you waiting for?

Hugs~

Spell Check Cracks Me Up

I love how clean my phone’s auto correct keeps me. In a particularly heated text I wrote how I had ducked up despite working my ads off.

Yeah, I’m not proud of writing those things in the first place, but it got me thinking about how easy it is to misinterpret things in oral conversation.

As a speech coach, I stress articulation, enunciation and pronunciation. Even how we say a word evokes different feelings from our listeners. Throw in a smirk on your face and your hands crossed over you chest and the words “You’re absolutely right” take on a whole new meaning. The spoken language can be tricky in all its nuances.

But so can writing. At least verbally, we can gauge a speaker’s true meaning by body language, facial expressions and vocal inflections. All of these are absent on paper. Which means that writers need to be hyper vigilant about how they present their information.

So, do me a favor, work your ads off and don’t duck up a great story with poor writing. Pay attention to whether your true message comes across to your readers the way you want it to, or whether you need a bit more clarification to make things rock!

Happy writing~