Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Celebrating Success!

        Every now and then I must stop and ask myself, “How am I doing?”  Because, I admit, there are days when I feel completely unsuccessful both at work and at home.  I get consumed with following the schedule and curriculum at school, and maintaining peace and well-being at home.  I move rapidly from one moment to the next, very rarely stopping to reflect on any moment of success, even though they are right in front of me.  So, today, I will celebrate!
        In February, I decided to submit a picture book manuscript into the New Voices in Children's Literature: Tassy Walden Awards, sponsored by Shoreline Arts Alliance (  The boys had begun phase one of sibling rivalry leaving me in the middle of many a toy battle.  I was definitely not feeling like a successful parent as I found myself in the middle of many toy battles.  So, I wrote about it.  Two weeks ago, I received a call telling me I was chosen as a finalist for the picture book category!  There had been 200 submissions, one winner, and three finalists!  I was thrilled!  

      The Tassy Finalists
     While I sat at the reception, listening to the winners read from their manuscripts, I thought about another piece of the success pie – celebrating the success of others.   I took the opportunity to chat with a few other writers and compliment the winners.  I also made sure to snag a picture with newly published author Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of One for the Murphys (  She is a small town author with a big city heart.

Lynda and I

        So take some time each day to celebrate your own successes - no matter how small.  You deserve it!  Also, be sure to compliment someone else on their success.  We all work very hard and become focused with those around us.  We get buried under our daily duties and work expectations.  It’s time to stop and say, “Hey, if it wasn’t for me….” 

        And, for those who asked, here’s the beginning of my picture book, Little Brother
            Hi, my name is Andrew.  This is my little brother Alex.  He used to be a baby.  Life was good then.  Now, he is what my mom calls “curious.” I call him Alex Monster!
            When Alex was a baby, he sat in a chair and watched everybody.  He was buckled into the chair and couldn’t get out.  I watched all my favorite TV shows and played with all my toys in the family room.
            Now Alex stands in a bouncer.  When he jumps up and down, it makes noise.  BANG!  CRASH!  He also screams and pushes buttons that play terrible music.  The whole thing is way too loud.  I yell for Mommy to make him be quiet. But then I get told not to yell!  Oh, and when he’s in the bouncer, he gets to watch his baby shows.  I do NOT like baby shows.    

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Have You Challenged Yourself Today?

     This weekend I took part in the Ragnar Relay  I was about to hop in a van with 5 other women.  There would be 12 of us total running 186 miles from Plymouth MA to Provincetown.  Nonstop. Overnight. As I stood in the merchandise tent I saw this on a sweatshirt: Run. Eat. Sleep? Repeat.   I began to realize the magnitude of what I had signed up for. 
          Have you challenged yourself lately?   I’ve heard my friends and colleagues speak of being in a rut.  As moms, whether we stay home or work, we’ve all been there.  Days go by and we continue to take care of the family and house.  We can’t remember the last time we sat down to rest with nothing on the to-do list.  Our sweatshirt would say: Feed. Transport. Clean. Sleep? Repeat. 
          When I told Jim I was going to do Ragnar two of his responses were: “That doesn’t sound fun.”  and “I don’t get it.”  This made me only want to do it more!   Choose a challenge that means something to you.  That you will find fun.  It can either be alone or with friends.  Choose something that is a little out of your comfort zone but won’t totally freak you out.  One of my legs was five miles long.  I haven’t run five miles in 15 years!  Never mind that I would also be running four miles seven hours earlier.  My last run was three miles at 4:00 a.m. through a state park.  (OK, this one freaked me out a bit.) 
          But I have good news!  The adrenaline of a challenge pushes you through.  It’s exhilarating!  You have to try it.  But I also have to warn you.  Once you have accomplished one challenge, you will want to do another.  I’m considering a triathlon next!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Advice…Who Needs It?

          I do!  And I don’t think that is a particularly bad thing.  Three years ago, when I decided to get serious about my writing, I applied for the Writing for Children’s course through the Children’s Literature Institute -an online course whose home base is in Redding, CT.  I was nervous beyond nervous as I waited for feedback on each assignment.  I found myself to be part indignant and part appreciative at times.  Over the ten submissions I learned I am strong in descriptive writing and character development, overused passive verbs and didn’t get to the conflict soon enough.  Qualities better suited for chapter books and not short stories.  Well, that wasn’t so bad. I know I can’t write “short.”  (Anyone who has ever had a conversation knows I can’t talk “short” either!)
          Next, I joined a critique group.  This was a huge step for me.  I can be extremely shy around strangers.  Now add the layer of reading out loud my writing…sheer panic set in on the first car ride!  I had written and revised my first chapter.  But would they like it?! I’ve worked hard at becoming a receptive set of ears instead of a defensive back when receiving comments from my group.  Lucky for me, they are a fantastic group of ladies!
          Most recently, I attended the New England Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators spring conference ( )  There was advice to be found at every turn!  From the critique session, to the workshops, to casual conversations at lunch, everyone was willing to share ideas and give advice.  I’m still new to this whole world of writing, but I became an advice sponge.  Letting all the tidbits and words of wisdom soak in.
          On the drive home, reflecting on the day, I couldn’t help thinking about other advice that enters my life on a daily basis.  I realized I am not always the most appreciative and receptive advice receiver.  But I have the power to change this.  No teacher can get through a school year all on their own and no parent has all the right ideas.  Advice is like a flower garden.  It comes in many forms.  Some is bright and bold, some is small and subtle.  My job is to pick what I like the best!