Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blog Facelift

I finally figured out how snaz up my blog! I added tabs, including some deleted scenes from Meg's Melody. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Christmas Giveaway

My book is being showcased today on LDS book review! Visit their blog and comment for a chance to win a copy of Meg's Melody! They are also giving out many other books and a $50 Amazon gift certificate.

http://ldswbr.blogspot.com/2010/12/megs-melody-by-kaylee-baldwin-countdown.html

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The book is in!!

My mother-in-law just called to let me know that she got Meg's Melody in the mail today!! She ordered it from Amazon, and it is already there. She is possibly the first person to see it. (I haven't even seen it yet!!) But she assures me that it looks awesome. I am so excited to get the copy of my book and actually hold it in my hands. Here's hoping I get my shipment of books soon!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unbroken Connection

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! It has been quite a year, and I definitely have a lot to be thankful for! My son is healthy and strong (and starting to walk again) after going through four surgeries this year. My middle son is FINALLY potty trained!! Woohoo. I never want to have three kids in diapers again. And my baby girl is showing her spunky personality everyday.

And, of course, I am so thankful that my book is coming out soon. It has always been one of my dreams to be an author. I remember telling my parents when I was probably around eight years old, that I wanted to be a singer, a writer, or an actress. Well, my singing is about average, I am waaay to shy to be an actor (maybe I'll blog about my short, humiliating foray into acting), so that left me with writing--which I love. I just finished my second book and it is out being critiqued right now.

While I'm waiting for the critiques on my next book, I've been trying to catch up on my to-be-read list. I stumbled across a book in my library by Angela Morrison called Taken by Storm that I read and loved.

I also had the opportunity to read Taken by Storm's sequel, Unbroken Connection and then interview the author. Unbroken Connection is a fabulous book. I got it in the mail one afternoon a few weeks ago, so I started to read, thinking that I'd get in a chapter or two while waiting for my son's bus to drop him off. I couldn't put it down!! I ended up reading the entire book in one afternoon. It is a touching love story that made my heart ache for Leesie and Micheal.
(And for all of you Kindle readers, Unbroken Connection is only $2.99 at Amazon--click on the link for a description of the book.)

I am excited to share my interview with Angela Morrison.

Kaylee: Unbroken Connection is the sequel to Taken by Storm. Did you always plan to write a sequel for Leesie and Michael? Where did you come up with the idea of their story?

Angela: Michael and Leesie's story was born in the back of a dive boat. We were tossing on the waves off the coast of Cozumel, shivering in the rain, when a fellow diver told us the weather wrecking our dive was left over from a hurricane that hit Belize the night before. He'd heard about a boat full of divers that got caught in it and drowned. At first, I found that hard to believe. But it was true. The story haunted me, and I began asking myself what if a guy on the boat survived when his parents and friends didn't? What would he do? Where would he go? And who would love him?

I didn't plan on writing a sequel, but when I finished writing TAKEN BY STORM, Michael and Leesie wouldn't leave each other alone. They wouldn't leave me alone, either. I scribbled down their conversations and it began to form into a story that I needed to tell. UNBROKEN CONNECTION was supposed to be the second book in my contract with Penguin, but they got nervous and asked me to write the story with different characters--in case TAKEN BY STORM didn't do well. I refused. Yikes. I had to come up with a whole new book, but that led to the amazing blessing writing SING ME TO SLEEP became. I wouldn't trade that book for anything, but I couldn't give up on UNBROKEN CONNECTION, either. When my editor left my imprint at Penguin, her boss rejected UNBROKEN CONNECTION. My readers threw a fit! So I released it independently, so they could read it.


Kaylee: I love the cover of Unbroken Connection. Did you design it?

Angela: My son designed it. We wanted to keep the feel of Penguin's paperback cover for TAKEN BY STORM. I think my son improved on it--tons! I love UNBROKEN CONNECTION's cover, too!


Kaylee: I've been following your Cayman Summer blog, where you are putting each chapter of the third book in this series online as you write it. How is this process going for you? Is it harder or more nerve wracking to post as you go? Or does it give you more motivation to write quickly for your waiting audience? (It makes me nervous to even think about it... but I'm glad you're doing it)

Angela: I have to admit I was incredibly nervous the first day I posted, but I have the most devoted band of readers an author could ever ask for. They encourage me and send me love every day. It's incredibly inspiring. I love getting instant feedback and will use that a lot when I revise. The motivation to post for them every day is fantastic, and it does give the writing teacher in me a chance to pontificate now and again.


Kaylee: Now, the impossible question... What is your all-time favorite book? (Okay, if you're like me and there is no way in the world to narrow it down to one, what are your most favorite books?)

Angela: Tolstoy's WAR AND PEACE. It's the most heartbreaking love story I know. Maybe that's why all of my books are tragic. I used to read it every year, but I'm so busy now writing, it's been a couple of years. I have the big, fat unabridged version, so it takes awhile to get through, but I love it again every time I read it.


Kaylee: Along this line, what books on writing have you found most valuable?

Angela: Hands down, Vogel's THE WRITER'S JOURNEY and Cameron's THE ARTIST'S WAY. I also love everything Katherine Paterson writes about writing. Check out THE INVISIBLE CHILD. The poetry writing book I use the most is Kowit's IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND. But Paul Janecsko's HOW TO WRITE POETRY is fun if you want to write poetry for children.


Kaylee: What advice can you give to any aspiring authors?

Angela:
Work hard on your craft. This is an art, and it takes years of practice to be able to hone your skills to the professional level. Don't give up. I can't say it will be worth the time and sacrifice in monetary terms. If that's why you write, choose another avenue. But if you write because you're miserable if you don't, welcome to the agony! Welcome to the joy.

Search for good mentors and opportunities to learn from professionals. If you write for teens or children, join SCBWI. My MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts--a high quality low residency program--changed my life. Check out my liv2writ blog on my website. I post my best writing advice there. Start at the bottom and work up!

And I'd also love to have you join the discussion at http://caymansummer.blogspot.com/. I hope the journey will be especially valuable for writers--and I'm giving away some free critiques as part of a big contest. Believe in yourself, in your story, in your art. It took me three and a half long years of rejection and revision to sell TAKEN BY STORM. Publishing is going through a painful revolution. There are lots of new opportunities there. Explore. Be creative. Share. Have fun. Love it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oh, Say Can You See

The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is less than two years away, and America is gearing up to host spectacular celebrations of the 200th anniversary of her second war of independence. LDS author, L.C. Lewis, saw the event fast-approaching and began writing a historical fiction series to commemorate this often overlooked moment and generation. Along the way, Free Men and Dreamers has garnered an impressive array of reviews, endorsements, and awards. Though each book continues the overall story, each volume is written as a stand-alone read as well, and Lewis thinks volume four, “Oh, Say Can You See?” which weaves her characters through the events surrounding the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, may be the most timely of all the volumes.

This week author L.C. Lewis is prepping for the national launch of “Oh, Say Can You See?”

From the backliner of the book:

Although the British raids have left Washington a devastated, blackened city, the battered Constitution has held and the presidency has survived!

But the struggling government has no home. The British saw to that. Gone is the Capitol and her magnificent library, the chambers of the Supreme Court, the President’s House, and every relic and document not secreted out of the city.

Next on the list of British prizes—the rebellious port city of Baltimore! A victory here would assure the Americans’ defeat, but a loss would dilute the importance of the destruction of Washington.

But has the raid on Washington stiffened the backs of the Americans? This is the question gnawing at the leaders on both sides.

The Willows women are mourning their absent men—gone to war, or wounded, or captured—as they await the birth of a blessed child.

Mere miles away, attorney Francis Scott Key embarks on a diplomatic mission that will leave an everlasting mark on America. Proving that a pen can be more powerful than a sword, Key records his fears and hopes—the fears and hopes of his embattled people—as he watches the bombardment of Baltimore while detained in the midst of the British fleet.

What changed in this noble man’s pacifist heart, empowering him to pen the powerful anthem, known today as “The Star Spangled Banner,” an epic poem that rallied a shattered nation to rise from its knees to claim the dream of “one nation under God?”

Experience the personal sacrifice of five families placed in the firestorm of the War of 1812, citizen heirs of the sacrifice of the Founding Fathers.

View the trailer at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQYHvfQeZvE&feature=player_embedded
---
Kaylee- That all sounds exciting! You’ve mentioned that “Oh, Say Can You See?” may be the most timely of all your books. What do you mean by that?

Lewis- I could lump volume three, “Dawn’s Early Light” in there as well because it surrounds the British attack on Washington. In my opinion, the devastation there really culminated in the writing of the Key’s epic poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which we know now as the “Star-Spangled Banner.” But what I meant is this, America is enjoying a renewed reverence for the Founding Fathers and their brilliance in designing the government they did. Sadly, many of us know less about the Constitution now than we did in sixth-grade, but that is changing today. There is a sense of patriotism sweeping across the land that resembles that passion and urgency felt in 1814. Remember the American political landscape was changed after the British attacked us. The iconic buildings Americans were beginning to identify with their nation and government had been destroyed. It was then that the flag rose from being a mere fort marker, to an emblem of this nation. Key recognized that as he peered across the Baltimore harbor, praying to see one of the last surviving symbols of America—that star-spangled flag flying above Fort McHenry. I think most Americans can identify with those feelings.

Kaylee- I’ve read that your research has been extensive. Why did you choose to write the events of this period as historical fiction rather than just as straight history?

Lewis- There are some spectacular historical accounts of this period, many of which I reference, but as I read reviews of those authors’ brilliant work, I recognized that there was an entire audience of people who didn’t enjoy that format, but who learn history best when it is personalized and wrapped around a compelling storyline. So I researched this period and created characters readers can invest in, and had them experience these events. By doing this, I can place them anywhere and in the midst of any event I choose.
Kaylee- What was the hardest part of writing “Oh, Say Can You See?”
Lewis- Since this volume thrusts our characters into the pivotal Battle of Baltimore and the events surrounding the writing of the "Star Spangled Banner," I really wanted readers to feel the emotions experienced by the families as well as the soldiers and sailors during that "perilous night" with "bombs bursting in air.”

Kaylee- The cover is beautiful! Did you have a hand in designing it?

Lewis- I had input. I knew I wanted an image of the bombardment of Fort McHenry with the focus on that splendid flag. Amy Orton, the cover designer at Walnut Springs Publishing presented a concept and we tweaked it together. I hope it will make readers hungry to tear into the book.

Kaylee- You’ve already received some beautiful endorsements. We’re posting a few listed on the book’s back cover:

"This book touched me deeply, causing me to reflect on the countless lives that have sacrificed freedom and happiness so that I could pursue my own. Lewis has written a compelling, almost epic, novel, full of themes that span from 1812 to 2010—and beyond. As her characters wrestle with the dislocation and trauma of a war, they come to realize what it means to be Americans, what it means to be free—and ultimately, what it means to be human." Braden Bell, author of "The Road Show."

“Master storyteller L C Lewis weaves her tales using well researched American history facts as the warp and masterful plotting and characterizations as the woof. (The word might be weft. I'll try to check if the wireless persists.) Oh Say Can You See carries all the threads of the previous three books in her Free Men and Dreamers series and presents a rich tapestry of life, love, conflict and triumph during the War of 1812.”. Liz Adair, award-winning author of “Counting the Cost.”

Once started, I had to read the whole thing through, and many parts brought tears to my eyes. (Ernest Runge, a Viet Nam veteran and history enthusiast)

Lewis- I love reading the early reviews. I sent unedited copies to some colleagues and readers and I was deeply, deeply touched by the warm reception the book has had so far. I especially love hearing that whole families are reading the series and writing to tell me how much they’ve learned about America. I can’t wait to hear their reaction to “Oh, Say Can You See?”
Kaylee- Tell us a little about your research for this volume.

Lewis- Aside from tons of reading, and visits to Frederick and other sites, my research for this book took me to Fort McHenry where I spent time with the expert on the Battle of Baltimore--Scott Sheads--who not only heads the staff at the fort, but who has served as the curator of the "Star Spangled Banner" exhibit at the Smithsonian. Like most historians with whom I've had the pleasure of chatting, Sheads is generous with his research and observations, offering me tidbits of little-known information about the perilous battle upon which the hopes of a battered nation hinged, and about the principle characters like Francis Scott Key who observed it as a detainee in the harbor, including details about the days surrounding the writing of the poem that became our nation's anthem.
Kaylee- I hear one more volume is planned after this one. When will it be released, and tell us about the other volumes.

Lewis- Book five is set for a spring 2011 release and it will carry us forward, as we see how the events of this period shaped America and affected the next generation. We’re toying with two titles—“The Morning Breaks,” and “In God We Trust.” Right now, we’re all leaning towards “In God We Trust.”

The other three books in the series are:

Volume 1, DARK SKY at DAWN, introduces the complex story of our six lead families--three American, two British, one slave--and the devastating prelude to the war.

Volume 2, TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING, carries readers into the harrowing events at Hampton, Virginia, and illustrates the toll the war takes on civilians--women and children. But through it all, a new tenacity begins to strengthen the young nation's spine as Americans rally to the cause of their nation.

Volume 3, DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT, throws our characters into the attack on Washington and the events that proved the mettle of the the Constitution and the Presidency.
Kaylee- Tell us a little about L.C. Lewis.

Lewis- Well, many readers will be surprised to hear that I’m a grandma and not a grandpa! Publishers tend to obscure female historical fiction authors behind a pen name because some readers just expect the authors of these books to be male. I write women’s fiction under my real name, Laurie Lewis. My most recent release was in April—a women’s novel titled, “Awakening Avery,” which is currently nominated for a Whitney Award. (http://whitneyawards.com/wordpress/about-the-whitney-awards/)

I’m a long time resident of Carroll County where my husband and I still reside. The past few years have been consumed by these books, but as soon as volume five is released I hope to pick up some of my old hobbies—genealogy, cross-stitch, the guitar and gardening. I’m dying to learn to play the piano and my brave daughter has offered to teach her uncoordinated mother the ropes.

Kaylee- Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us today. Let’s just remind readers that OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE? is set for an October release but autographed copies can be pre-ordered at http://www.thisistheplace.com/store?start=Product&wid=15166.

L.C. Lewis is beginning pre-release promotional activities readers can participate in by visiting her web site and blog at www.laurielclewis.com, and www.laurielclewis.blogspot.com.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Original Thinking

Agents and publishers want originality. I've been asked the question (several times): What makes your novel unique? Coming up with original plot lines and twists are key to writing something that people will enjoy. But this can be really, really hard. Sometimes we don't even know we're picking cliche reactions and story lines in our writing.

At a writing critique group I met with a few weeks ago, one of the other writers brought an exercise (from Joan Soward's post on the ANWA blog) for us to do on metaphors. There were two columns of words:
One: skinny girl, autumn leaves, computer screen, black and white movie, and old shoes.
Two: water slide, bed skirt ruffles, wedding buffet, clothesline, and bubble bath.

Then we took just a couple of minutes to make as many metaphorical sentences that we could using one word from each column.

I will share my sentences with you (knowing that they are not metaphors, they are similes, but that is not my point!), but I was working under a time frame and just wrote the first thing that came to my mind:

1) The autumn leaves fell from the bag over her shoulder like water down a slide.
2) The skinny girls arms stretched like a clothesline as she prepared to do a cartwheel.

Well, imagine my surprise that as we went around and read our sentences aloud, all of us had chosen to pair the skinny girl with the clothesline, and two of us had paired the autumn leaves with the water slide. Why had we all chosen the same images?

Because we had all picked the first things that came to our mind. We picked the easy-to-pair images. And as a result--we didn't have bad sentences, but none were truly unique.

I think the key here is to not go with the first thing that comes into our minds when writing. We need to brainstorm several different paths our stories can take, give ourselves several options to pick from. Try to dig deeper. Try pairing the skinny girl with the wedding buffet instead (go for a little irony maybe) or the autumn leaves with the the bed skirt ruffles (as one of the women at the critique group did and she gave us a vivid image of what those leaves sounded like). Get a little crazy!

A side note: The book: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell has an awesome list of brainstorming questions to help us come up with something original. I love this book!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Meg's Melody Back Cover Blurb

She paced the small confines of her bathroom as she waited the obligatory two minutes for the result. Yet, part of her sensed the truth. Not only did Austin take her self-esteem and plans for happiness, but he also took her get-out-of-this-marriage-free card.

The plus sign glared at Meg from the white plastic frame of the pregnancy test. The test fell from her hands and clattered into the bathtub as Meg’s back slid against the wall until she reached the floor.

“I’m pregnant,” she said into the quiet.

Meg never imagined she'd end up like this. With nowhere else to turn, she's forced to rely on the family she pushed away, the church she abandoned, and an unexpected friendship to help her find her forgotten melody. Meanwhile Matt is still mourning the loss of his wife. But determined to keep things together for his daughter's sake, he decides starting over in a new place might be just what his family needs.

This touching story combines romance with redemption and real conflict to remind you it's never too late to find joy. Kaylee Baldwin's capable hand renders a sincere, heartfelt story of rediscovery and hope. Perfect for romantics of all ages, this book will captivate your heart and rekindle your belief in the magic of music.

Available for pre-order through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meg's Melody Cover

Here is what the cover of my book is going to be:



I am so excited! Seeing the cover makes it actually feel real. I just finished going through my last edit, and it will go through a few more people over at Cedar Fort, then make its way to the printers, and will then be out the first week of December. I'll keep you updated when I for sure when it's coming out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Win a copy of Chocolate Roses!

Love
chocolate? Love
Jane Eyre?


Then you're going to love the blog tour (July
26-August 6)
for Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards.


Janie Rose Whitaker¹s world revolved around her chocolate shop until
Roger Wentworth and his young daughter moved into the apartment across from
Janie¹s. Anyone would think Roger fit the mold of the ³perfect² guy, but
soon Janie discovers secrets that could keep them apart forever. Though she
resists getting involved in Roger¹s complicated life, they are drawn
further into a bittersweet relationship.

You will laugh, cry, and crave chocolate as you read this LDS parody of the
classic novel Jane Eyre.


My Review:
I really enjoyed Chocolate Roses. It is a parody of Jane Eyre—one of my all time favorite books. She follows the storyline of Jane Eyre closely, with quotes from the book at the beginning of each chapter. I read it in one sitting (and had to go get some chocolates from the pantry at one point!) It is a well-written, fun, lighthearted story with a heroine that is not your typical skinny, beautiful-but-doesn’t-know-it character. The love triangle addresses some sensitive issues, but it is handled in a tasteful, believable way. This is definitely one I will read again—perhaps on a stormy evening, wrapped up in my quilt, with a box of delicious chocolate close at hand!


We have two great prizes up for grabs!
Win either a copy of the
book (2 winners) or this fabulous apron created by Joan!




All you
have to do is leave a comment (along with your email address if it isn't on
your blog profile) and answer the following question.


What's your favorite type of
chocolate: white, dark, or milk?


The more blogs you comment on the
more entries you'll receive.
All comments must be left by midnight MST on August 8 to be
eligible.


July 26
Nichole Giles--Random-ish by
Nichole

Joyce DiPastena--JDP News

July 27
Deanne Blackhurst--Annie Speaks
Her Mind

Tristi Pinkston--*Tristi
Pinkston


July 28
Taffy Lovell--Taffy's Candy
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words
and Dreams


July 29
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--The
Write Blocks

C.S. Bezas--For the Love of the
Written Word


July 30
Sheila Stayley--Why Not?
Because I Said So!

LDSWomen's Book Review

August 2
Kerry Blair--Now &
Here

Marsha Ward--Writer in the
Pines


August 3
Kaylee Baldwin--Kaylee
Baldwin

Amy Orton--Amesbury Reads

August 4
Anna del C.--Anna del C. Dye's Blog
Laurie Lewis--A View from
the Other Side


August 5
Valerie Ipson--Of Writerly
Things

Anna Arnett--Insights and Ramblings
from Anna Arnett


August 6
Lynn Parsons
Danyelle Ferguson--Queen of the Clan


Chocolate Roses can be purchased
from Amazon, and of
course your local LDS bookstore.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Escape

When my grandmother was a little girl, her life seemed perfect on the outside. The caring mother and doctor father, living in an elite neighborhood. They were wealthy. They were well-known. But things were not as perfect behind closed doors. Discord, hurt, frustration, and confusion reigned more than love.

So my grandmother needed to escape.

As a young child, her only mode of escape was to read. She devoured The Wizard of Oz, imagining for a moment that she was Dorothy going to other lands, making new friends. She lost herself in any book she could get her hands on, knowing that for the time she held that book in her hands, she was in a different world than her own.

This is the power of books. This is the power of reading.

The circumstances of my life are not so dramatic, but sometimes I feel the need to escape for a few hours. To fall into the world Green Gables, Jane Austen's England, Forks, 1960s south, and any number of places. To make friends with Anne, Elizabeth, Mary Lennox, Bella, Skeeter, or Katniss. To watch them deal with their own problems and forget mine for a time.

Because the thing about those problems is that they are usually still waiting for you once you put the book down. But at least you had a break.

My grandmother is my hero. I love her so much. It is from her that I get my insatable love of reading. It is from her that my mom learned to love me so wholly and unconditionally. It is from her that I learn more of God and His love for us. And I am grateful everyday that my grandmother could get an break from her young life by reading. I am gratefult that my grandmother had Oz.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Getting published

My husband, Jeremy, went back to school almost three years ago to get his Master's degree. That meant that after the kids went down to bed at night (only two at this time) I would watch a lot of TV. I got sick of that really quick, so I grabbed the laptop and began writing. I have always loved writing and have written a lot of short stories, but this is my first completed novel... and it began as a short story that went a little wild when I kept thinking: "then, what if this happened?"

I finished the complete novel about a year ago and sent it to a bunch of people in my writers group to read and critique. They gave me great advice... some that I listened to and some that I didn't. I submitted my book to three publishers and by December of '09 I'd been rejected by all three. Bummer.

Luckily, one of the publishers sent me a personalized rejection letter telling me why they didn't accept my book(needed more conflict and stronger themes). This was awesome, because usually publishers only send out form rejection letters.

Feeling more humble now, I pulled out all of those old critiques and really examined what some of them had said I needed to do, and actually did it this time as an experiment to see how the story flowed. I then went through and rewrote the entire story, strengthening the theme and adding a little more conflict. I then had a couple more people read through it, who gave me the green light. It was better this time. They loved it. Send it in.

So, holding my breath, I sent it in to Cedar Fort (the one who had given me the personalized rejection letter). Within I a month I had heard back from them. I had a contract. I got it the day that I got home from girl's camp. I've been dying to talk about it, but we were still in contract negotiations up until yesterday. But now, it is all settled, and I can finally talk about it!!!

They say that it takes anywhere from 8 months to a year before we see my book on the shelves. I should find out within the next week an approximate date (that is just that... approximate, not set in stone by any means). There is a pretty extensive process that a book goes through after it has been accepted for publication, including editing, revisions (if needed), typesetting, marketing, making a cover, title, back cover blurb, sending to the printers, getting out to stores, etc. I'll for sure keep everyone updated. :)

Details about the actual book....I am not sure what the title is going to be. Something I didn't know is that the publishers have the final say on what a book is called. They want to name it something that will appeal to readers. I hate my current title (it took me forever to think of it, and something about it just bugs me) so I hope that they change it.

It is a contemporary (meaning set in current times) christian-lds romance. Cedar Fort is publishing it. Let me get back to you on what it is about!! I will say that it is about a woman who's husband leaves her for another woman. I'll write more about that later!

As I have mentioned before, this has always been my dream, and I am so excited!!!! Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and congrats. I feel so loved and supported. Let me know if you have any other questions and I'll try to answer them, but I am new at this, too, so I am just learning as I'm going!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Sugar

When I think of a pyramid, what usually comes to my mind is the food pyramid. (I know that the nutritionists have come out with something new, but I grew up in the age of the pyramid.) You've got wheat (the staff of life) on the bottom, followed by fruits/veggies, followed by meats and dairies, followed lastly by one of my favorite things in the entire world: sugar.

We have to have our fill of all the other things on the pyramid before we even think about taking in that sugar, and when we do eat it, it has to be sparingly. In fact, there is no recommended dosage, because, basically it is not recommended that you eat it, but it makes everything taste oh, so good. :)

Recently I learned of a pyramid that a psychologist, Maslow, made in 1943. Maslow studied "exemplary people" like Lincoln and Einstein to name a few, and formulated what he called a "Hierarchy of Needs."

At the bottom are things that we need for absolute survival (air, food, water, etc.)
Then as you go up the pyramid, the next level is security (personal, financial, emotional)
The next level is love, family, friendship.
Next is esteem, confidence, respect of and for others.
And last, at the very tip of the pyramid is creativity, spontaneity, and other forms of self-actualization.

Similar to the food pyramid, the things at the base are absolutely important, and you have to have the basic building blocks of those needs in order to move upward.

This is why, when I feel like I am barely surviving (whether it be emotionally because my children are driving me crazy, or are having health issues, or physically, because I feel so sick myself, or I am at odds with someone I care for, etc) It is really hard for me to sit down and write. My mind does not want to think about what my characters are going to do to survive their problems, but what I am going to do to survive my own problems!

Writing can be a great escape, but I have noticed that I really do have to be in a particular place of health and security for me to allow myself to sit down and write. Some things can be taken care of quickly, others require patience, and yet others require help from someone.

Maslow's Hierarchy is only a theory, but I like that it reminds us that we do need to take care of our basic needs for survival. Everything on this pyramid is a NEED, not a WANT-- including creativity. But when I see Creativity's small little triangle at the very tip of the pyramid, I can't help but think of the sugar on the food pyramid. And I'm reminded that, like sugar, creativity makes everything in life just a little bit better.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Criticism

The first time someone critiqued something I had written, I cried.

It was a sophomore level creative writing class at my university, and I brought a story that I was nervous to share because it was fictionalized version of something that had really happened to me. We got into critique groups of four people, and I began to read my story to the group, my nerves bubbling into my shaky voice and even shakier hands.

When I finished, they proceeded to tear my story apart. "Not believable," the girl to my right said. "What was the point, again? It seemed like there needed to be more," the grungy guy across from me commented. The last girl left pointed out most of my glaring grammatical errors that a 5th grader at any elementary school could have caught.

I sat there, feeling like they had all taken bats to me and beat me senseless, and then began to defend my story. Of course Grunge Guy didn't like it-- he wrote action/murder stories and this was a romance. Not believable?! It happened to me (I wished later that I hadn't divulged that personal tidbit of information, because then they just felt sorry for me). I had no argument for my grammar, except that Word hadn't underlined the problem areas in green squiggly lines. Pride held my tears in check until I got home a few hours later and finally let it all out. They hated me. They hated my writing. I was the worst writer ever. Why try?

I eventually managed to crawl out of the self-pity mire (with the help of a half-gallon of chocolate ice cream and some really cool roommates) and began my rewrite.

Today I was reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and he said something that made me recall this experience. He was on a football team when he was young and the coach was really hard on the team, him in particular. After one practice, the coach was especially critical of Pausch and how he was playing:
"'Coach Graham rode you pretty hard, didn't he?" the assistant coach said."
" I could barely muster a 'yeah.' "
" 'That's a good thing," the assistant told me. "When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you.'"


I love that no one has given up on me.

Since my first experience with being critiqued, I've learned a few lessons.
1. Don't take things personal. They are critiquing that particular piece of writing, not me as a person.
2. Don't defend my work. Just listen. I may not agree, but that's okay.
3. Keep an open mind. Be willing to listen and change the story.
4. Have confidence in my work. Don't assume that just because it is being critiqued, it's horrible.
5. Remember that my critique partners are there to support and help, and they have my best interest in mind.

Now, I anticipate my critique sessions because they have made me a better writer. (Though, a nice, healthy scoop of chocolate ice cream can still help get me through those rewrites that inevitably follow a productive critique session.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Daughter of Mine Book Review

Daughter of Mine
By Laura Fabiani
4 stars
PG
Contemporary, mystery, romance

Tiziana Manoretti is shocked when her parents reveal that she was adopted from a small orphanage in Italy. Against her father’s wishes, she decides to travel to Gaeta, Italy to try and find her birth parents. She hopes that the trip will also give her time to sort out how she feels about her best friend, Christopher—whom she has fallen in love with, but worries is still not over his ex-wife. On her first night in Italy, she meets the handsome and charming Gian-Carlo. He befriends her immediately and offers to help her on her quest to find her birth parents. She soon finds, though, that there is someone who wants to keep her from finding out the truth—someone who will go to great lengths to keep a twenty-eight year old secret hidden.

Review:
I enjoyed this novel. Ms. Fabiani describes Gaeta in such vivid detail, that I felt as though I had visited it. Tiziana is someone I would want to be friends with, someone I rooted for as she searched for her birth parents. It is a story that explores choices and consequences, family relationships, and the hope of love, and it kept me wanting to read more.

Check out Laura's website: http://www.laurafabiani.com

Daughter of Mine is available for purchase on Amazon.