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Settling Your Palate

As parents, it is our jobs to worry. My oldest child hated to read. Every word that made it from paper to his brain was a fight. Oh, he’d listen to me read all day long, but getting him to pick up a book on his own was akin to torture. One exception was C.S. Lewis and other classics like White Fang. Tough books for a little boy with dyslexia.

But this wasn’t the first time I’d had to worry extensively about him or my other kids. Like any good mom, my kids’ eating habits were of utmost concern.

When Eldest was about a year and a half old, all he ate were strawberry Poptarts and bananas. And I do mean this literally. My lovely doctor assured me it was just a phase and that Poptarts were heavily fortified enough to see him through to the next love. My Dear Daughter, on the other hand, was a yogurt fanatic. She loved all things dairy to the point of refusing infant formula. She went straight from mama’s milk to moo milk at six months old–and Lord, did that cause a stir. Seven years later Youngest devoured oatmeal by the gobs. He had a bowl every morning and one every night before bed, often times supplementing his daily menu with a snack or two in between. If I had a penny for every time someone told me he would get fat from all the carbs, my Dear Hubby could retire

The only one who didn’t have a phase was our Middle son. At about eight months old, Middle had gotten so sick that he nearly didn’t make it through the severe dehydration caused by his multiple-infection diagnosis. For the next few years, he subsisted off of McDonalds’ shakes just to keep his calorie intake up and help close the growth gap created by the side-effects of his illness. Doctor’s orders. As you can imagine, he was a seriously picky eater. (Right, Dave Homann?) Not to mention, we were seriously concerned parents. All despite having other children with quirky eating habits not only survive, but thrive.

I have no idea if Eldest eats Poptarts or bananas, though I suspect many of the former and few of the latter. He is a college kid, after all. DD can’t stand the texture of yogurt, and Youngest still uses oatmeal as a bedtime snack more often than not. Middle likes anything not from McDonalds–with lemon peppered asparagus & brussel sprouts as a current fave.

Tastes change. Or not. And that’s okay. But what we don’t’ have to do is stress over the evolution. Change can be good. The journey even better.

We are blessed with a lifetime to try new flavors and textures. Opportunities abound to stretch our experiences and fall in love with new foods. So, too, are readers capable of changing literary loves.

As a voracious reader of mysteries in my childhood, I still appreciate a good thriller with a tangled web of deceit and a healthy dose of red herrings. I’ve also grown to love nonfiction. But only medical or history based nonfiction. Give me a 1,000 page tome on the history of rabies and I’m like a kid with the whole candy store at my disposal…or should I say consumption?!

Crime novels were once my Poptarts and bananas. While most romance novels are akin to the goopy texture of Greek yogurt.

My bookshelves are filled with a  vast palate of literature ranging from the classics to YA to pulp fiction. And that’s better than okay. Diversity is good, even if we have to go through picky phases to get there.

So, don’t be too harsh on your children for not eating their peas or not loving to read. Tastes change. It is our job to support the journey and expose ourselves and our  kids to unique and continuous opportunity, be it music, food, athletics or literature.

Once upon a time, Eldest struggled to read. Now, he is rarely without a book.

How has your palate changed? What are your current faves (of anything) and why? If you are a writer, how has this affected your writing journey?

Curious minds want to know.

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Is Facebook Dead? & other Techy Stuff for Parents and Writers

It’s evident that most kids have emigrated from Facebook to cyber sites less-frequented-by-adults. This mass exodus has caused the extinction of previous social network sites, and I can’t help but wonder if Facebook is the next dinosaur of the cyber world.

For parents, this constant migration away from adult eyes means chasing down vines, instagrams and snap chats–an exhausting endeavor at best.

Yet for writers, it means one more way to date our writing. And that is never a good thing unless we pen historical fiction.

The bunchy phone cords of my childhood were replaced by cordless phones, then bag phones then cell phones that now know exactly where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with on any given day. It’s terrifying and could have been a sci-fi novel a handful of years back.

So what does the future hold for the written word in regards to technology?

Do we follow the trend of the day and pray that by the time our novels are published the tech hasn’t left our words behind?

Or, do we create our own, similar technology and use it as stand ins for the real thing?

And what is this social media thing all about anyways, and how will it continue to evolve? Is Candy Crush the future? Will we be wified from birth so that every thought, every memory, every sight we see will be instantly networked to curious onlookers? Will fiction become fact sooner than we think? How do you handle this and other techy conundrums in your life and your writing?

Curious  minds want to know!

It’s almost that time of year again…

Taking on the world, one novel at a time!

Crazy, I know, but super fun and dream-worthy, none-the-less!

In fact, just this morning, I ran across my high school graduation invitation. Our class motto is far more meaningful to me now than it was two and a half decades ago…

I didn’t always dream of writing, but once the bug bit me, I’ve never been able to shake it. NaNo, while crazy and intense, is an amazing annual event that inspires and motivates me. It’s like a runner’s high. Only better because my thighs don’t burn and I don’t have snot running down my face.

Since I started participating in NaNo, I’ve had nearly a dozen short stories, several articles and a novel (with a second one coming out next year) published, as well as edited a short story anthology and served on the acquisitions board for five others. I am firmly wrapped up in the beauty of my dreams.

And the hard work…

Once November hits, I’ll batten down the hatches and come up for coffee, kids and Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what my writing project will be, but I’m actually thinking of something a little lighter this year.

If anyone wants to join me in writing (or attempting to write) 50,000 words in 30 days, I make a great cheerleader. I also make a mean pumpkin cheesecake that I plan to bake for a local write-in. What could be better than good company, beautiful dreams and divine desserts?

Go ahead, click on the National Novel Writing Month icon above and sign up for a unique adventure. If you do, drop a line and let me know what your user name is, so we can get through the month together. If you live close enough, I might even throw in a margarita and homemade guacamole for incentive!

Share your dreams. What motivates you to reach them? Do you ever feel as if your dreams are so wild and crazy they are not worth pursuing? If so, how do you push on despite the devil on your shoulder?

Curious minds want to know.

Cover Reveal: Tales from the Bully Box

Available Soon!

Thanks, Sarah Tregay, for the beautiful cover to an exciting middle grade anthology.  You Rock!

Thanks, authors, for your inspiring stories. Some of them brought me to tears!

Thanks, Bully Box Brigade, for putting together an informative website for kids, parents and teachers. The Bully Box is filled with fun stuff for youth, helpful hints for parents and educational info for teachers, as well as ordering discounts for classrooms.

Thanks, Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, for kicking off your Colors for Causes campaign with the color orange and its theme of bully prevention. I love that you are donating money to help make this world a better place.

Thanks, PACER, for making October a month of awareness for how we treat others. You also rock!

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.