I’m almost through the “Five Sundays in November” Young Writers Workshop series at my library. And I’m sad it’s almost over. While many of these enthusiastic writers attended my summer sessions, we had quite a few new faces join us. And what an amazing time it’s been! I can’t wait to share some of their writing once we’re finished.






What They Learned:



We covered character development, read short stories to talk about beginnings and suspense, wrote poems and had many (not-so) serious discussions about rainbow unicorn poop, serial killers, waffles, and what boys wear to school. Yes, it’s all important stuff. I hope along the way, they’ve made some new friends, and learned a thing or two.



What I Learned:



I must admit, I didn’t know how any of this would go at first. Would they enjoy it? Would they get anything out of it? But the writing they’ve brought back each week–as well as their enthusiastic reading–has made it a whopping success. I heard stories that were sad, thrillers that left me on the edge of my seat, and writing so funny it couldn’t possibly be written by 11 year olds! But best of all, these kids devoted themselves to working on stories each week that didn’t have anything to do with school or money. They write because they love it. And for that reason alone, I’d do this a million times over.



Next week, we have our Christmas/Writing-Wrap-Up party, and I’m excited about it already. They’re working on stories about a reindeer with a superpower—and a serious problem. What will they write? I can only imagine. This is one of the best parts of my job, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to encourage fifteen budding writers. Who knows? Maybe one day, one of them will be the next best-selling author!






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fall, trees



And it’s already November. What? Seriously, what? I want to wrap up the rest of the year and seal it inside an envelope so it won’t get away from me. I wish that would work.



I’m dedicating the rest of 2014 to finishing the first draft of this book, revising the heck out of it, supporting my writing friends both near and far, and prepping for 2015. ‘Cause 2015 is gonna blow every other year right out of the stratosphere, right? That’s my plan. (I hope someone is listening!)



We haven’t had a lot of sunshine here, but I managed to grab a few minutes this week in a long, backroad car drive after a Teen Services Summit library workshop in the pretty town of Perth (see my lunchtime photo above). I still managed to find a few things to swoon over this fall, though. Music, books, workshops, chocolate, movies. Mostly chocolate. Always chocolate.



♥  Taylor Swift’s album 1989    ♥  Workshops with teen librarians   ♥  My amazing sister

♥  4-year-old Mayhem and her fabulous Instagram fashion!   ♥  YouTube   ♥  Bakeries

♥  Roku, Netflix & Fiio   ♥  Salted Caramel Mochas in a cup with my name scrawled on it

♥  Special phone calls from Myrtle Beach   ♥ THE BONE CLOCKS   ♥  Robot costumes



I’m gearing up for what I’m calling “Five Sundays in November”, a series of writing workshops for the young writers who live in my community. Lots of books, writing exercises and snacks are planned. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’m opening up my Word Doc as we speak to tackle the ending to MANIAC.  Wish me luck…….









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There have been a lot of articles online lately regarding author Kathleen Hale’s over-the-top response to a bad review.  After reading the original post and various other responses, I must admit, I feel overwhelmed by it. She went waaaaaay too far. The reviewer went waaaaaaay too far. It’s all a mess. But I understand the feelings behind it, more than you can imagine.



I don’t yet have a book published, but I hope to one day. And with that will come reviews, I know that. The temptation to defend every notion of a bad review must be overwhelming, but the general warning authors hear all the time is: don’t engage. For your own sanity, don’t engage.



Don’t engage.


It sounds so simple. Read it. Forget it. Walk away. Shake it off. Like the words could ever be erased from your memory. But when faced with what feels like a personal attack, walking away is easier said than done. I get that now.



Know the Facts.



Recently, during a Municipal election, I found out that a candidate who was running for a seat on the Town Council started his campaign because of a program he didn’t like at the library. A program I ran. Now, it doesn’t sound too bad on the surface….someone decides they want to make changes in a small town, to offer better services to their community, to support better initiatives. That makes a lot of sense, and it’s what most people are probably trying to do when they run for office.  But not this guy. This guy—who I didn’t recognize as a regular library user, nor his children or wife—took offense to a program he saw posted on our library Facebook page that he felt “supported bad writing and poor acting”. Yes, people….he was talking about “SHARKNADO 2″.



Sharks, sharks! Everywhere, sharks!



During the summer, our children’s programming is all about getting kids & teens into the library. If we can find a hook that will bring them in, we use it. This one, which we called “Craftnado”, was aimed at teens. The sequel to the cult TV hit SHARKNADO was airing during July, so we thought it would be fun to plan an afternoon event based around sharks. We had 3-D paper sharks to make, some crazy shark-tooth jewelry, and we even had a shark-themed “I Spy” for the younger kids to take part in while they were in the building. The highlight, though, was our giant inflatable remote controlled shark that “swam” through the building that week whenever we had a bunch of kids inside. The whole thing was just another one of the fun themes we’d planned for the summer months. Aside from the idea, there was nothing we used during the event that promoted SHARKNADO or the sequel.



We never expected someone to deem the program “garbage”.  In fact, not one person complained to us, and everyone seemed to have a great time in the library that week. The flying shark was especially exciting! So, to hear later that someone was offended and thought we were doing a disservice to the children of our community by referencing SHARKNADO 2, was shocking, to say the least.



The lengths this man went to in order to scold us was appalling (no need to go into them here). He hoped to earn a spot on the Town Council to appoint change, but thankfully, he did not get enough votes. However, he left me with a very bad taste in my mouth, and the feeling of wanting to engage his ridiculous points, if only just to argue my side.



Shake it off!



It’s a difficult lesson to be criticized, especially when you know you can’t or shouldn’t respond. And the common sense answer of just letting it go is really the smartest one. Bad publicity isn’t better than no publicity at all–that’s exaggerated. Don’t lose your self-respect, or the respect of others who really do matter by entering into a no-win situation. Just walk away, swim away, float away. Feel the response, but don’t live the response. It wont make anything better.



So, don’t read the reviews, or if you must, only take in the good points, and remember the negatives are given by people that don’t matter in your life.



How do you shake off negative reviews?




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I wanted to buy flannel sheets today.



I wanted to buy girly, floral, flannel sheets, and matching red velvet throw pillows. I wanted to know what it was like to sleep inside those warm cotton covers, while outside, the world was capturing frost and decorating everything in a sheen of not-quite-ice. I wanted to wake up covered in velvet fuzz.



But what if they were too warm? What if I woke up drenched in sweat, wishing I’d never taken those sheets out of their packaging and stretched them tight onto the bed? Would I regret buying those red velvet pillows, only looking at them briefly each morning to place them back where I imagined they should belong, tossing them to the floor each night before crawling into bed?



What about all of the other sheets nested in my hall closet? I have too many already.



Maybe I’ll just buy a new pair of mittens.




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Over at the YA Buccaneers today, I’m talking about writing diets. No, it’s not about writing less, but about using your time more effectively.



Keep a writing diary for two weeks, especially leading up to NaNoWriMo, and see just how you’re doing. Family interruptions? Too much Twitter time? Find out where you’re going wrong just in time for the big November push.



I write my first drafts on a laptop that doesn’t even have a modem, let alone wi-fi access (was there even wi-fi when I got it?). I know!  But it keeps me from getting distracted every few seconds to check my email, or see what’s happening on Facebook. It’s not perfect—I still have my cell phone handy—-but it makes for solid writing times, which is a good strategy for me.



Stop over to the YA Buccaneers to download a simple spreadsheet and work page to track your progress.



How healthy is your writing diet?







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