My new year gift to you--this short video my husband took at the Dallas airport while we were waiting for our VERY delayed departure. We were supposed to be home before 6pm and ended up walking in the door after midnight. But in the meantime, we had fun. Click here. I have some things I'm dying to write about, mainly movies and books, but there just hasn't been any time. I'm hoping to catch up on all of that this week.
If you haven't already, check out this guest post on Madhuri Blaylock's blog. It's called 'Evolution of a Diverse Books Writer or How I Went From, ‘Why Not Have a Dark-Skinned Character?’ to ‘Everything I Write for the Rest of My Life Will Include Diversity for the Sake of My Son and the Rest of the Non-White and Disabled People on Earth’, by R.A. White.
Click here to read.
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With all the talk about poor casting going around, most recently spurred by the casting of Europeans in 'Moses', I thought I should share a story that happened to us a week or two ago. Hopefully it doesn't offend anyone, but if it does, well...
So Trooper and I were walking in a craft store when I realized that he had fallen behind. I turned to find him staring intently at a shelf of Santa statues. "What are you looking at?" I asked.
"He's black," he said. "Why he's black?"
Cue awkward music as I decide how to answer the question. How can Santa be both black and white, and on the same shelf? I wouldn't be in this predicament if Dad didn't insist on treating Santa as a real person. I chose to answer without addressing the question I knew he was really asking. "Well, maybe some people want a black Santa. It's OK."
Loud look from the four-year-old, whose skin is darker than any ceramic Santa I've ever seen. That look said, "I saw Santa yesterday and he's white. You don't know what you're talking about, mom."
"It's OK, Trooper. Some people want a Santa that's the same color as them. Really, it's OK."
He turned back to the Santas.
I said, "If white people can turn Jesus white, it's OK for black people to turn Santa black." I didn't expect him to understand what I meant by this, but either he did understand or he just thought it sounded logical because he decided to go with it. He left the Santas and followed me back to the paints.
Funny how some people can get all caught up in keeping the tradition of FICTIONAL characters, but not mind at all when real, historical individuals and nations are completely changed. Sometimes we can definitely get our world views mixed up.
Today, for the first time EVER, Trooper recognized a letter. At four and a third years old, I might have expected that he'd be sounding out simple words by now, but long ago he taught us that he'll get to his development stages when he jolly well feels like it, and not a moment sooner. And he DOES get to them, just not on my schedule. So I've been doing my best to present information without pressure and let him 'get it' when he's ready. Well, we're still a long, long way from sounding out words, but today was a huge breakthrough.
We were reviewing the alphabet as usual when he interrupted me excitedly. "Look, Mom, it's an 'M'!" he said as he pointed to the first letter in 'Monday' on the days-of-the-week bears. I tell you, I wouldn't have been more thrilled if he had started randomly reciting the multiplication table (still working on number recognition, too). As we continued our review of the alphabet, he later pointed out the 'S' in 'Saturday' and the 'T' in Thursday. Then the phone rang and we were done with letters for today.
In general I haven't been worried about his reading development since he loves books and can listen to stories for an indefinite length of time, but I admit there are times when I wonder if his seeming inability to make connections between sounds and symbols and see the distinction between those symbols is sign of a disability (a 30% chance with his syndrome) or sheer stubbornness (100% chance with a four-year-old). This really doesn't answer that question, but it does reassure me that it likely won't be a lifelong issue, whatever it is.
In most ways, Trooper is a very obviously smart child. He's curious, creatively mischievous, understands stories, and easily learns facts about things when he wants to. He has a surprising vocabulary despite his speech delay, and never forgets where he hid things. But trying to get him to learn 'academic' topics like letters, numbers, colors, and shapes has been a real challenge. I actually had to make a commitment to myself that I would stop trying to force outcomes (him learning) and instead I would just teach in every learning style I can. Since then, our house has been much more peaceful, he's been enjoying school, and he's also been getting a firmer grasp on things.
Why am I sharing all this? I don't know. It's on my mind, and as a writer it's especially important to me that my son be able to truly dive into the world of reading. Plus there's college and career and all that, which is generally easier when a guy is a good reader and knows his colors.
Last week I posted a short statement about errors in Kergulen, and I just wanted to update saying that I've made a lot of progress fixing it. After much thought, I've decided I must have lost the good (final edit) file when I switched computers a while back. I was having lots of trouble with the old computer and might not have pulled everything over. So, later I added some contact info to the end of the book (but I added it to the wrong book file) and now I have contact info, but a less perfect story. It's a pain, but I'm so glad someone mentioned the problems when she did. She also found a continuity error that no one else seems to have noticed... but I'm not sharing that with you. If you want to guess, go ahead, but it's fixed and that's the end of that. The rest of the world will never know.
So this week I've been editing Kergulen and writing Alonca's Quest, and I haven't been online much at all. So I'm short on blog posts and facebook keeps reminding me that I have 92 fans who haven't heard from me in a week, now, but I really have to concentrate on books or I'll fall behind over the holidays. So I'll share this post and the most recent interview (which I did last week or it wouldn't have gotten done) and call it a week.
Next week we have we have holiday craziness and doctor's appointments, so I don't know if I'll post or not. In case I don't, I'll wish you happy holidays now.
PS. If you want to make my season bright, share this blog and my books with friends and family.
Stacy Lynn Caroll wrote the true story of a quadriplegic man, titled, 'My Name is Bryan'. It's a short interview and very interesting, so you should check it out.
RA: Stacy, your book, My Name is Bryan, is based on a true story. Can you tell us why you decided to write about a quadriplegic man?
STACY: Bryan is actually my father-in-law. While I was dating my husband, I kept hearing different stories about his dad and thought, this really needs to be a book! It seemed like fate when his only son married a writer. Bryan's story is so inspirational and uplifting! I wanted to write his story so we could share it with the world. Too often bad things happen and people give up. Bryan is an example of someone who never gave up and never questioned why. His positive attitude is what has helped him live a full and happy life.
RA: Would you share a couple of highlights from his life, something that might inspire our readers today?
STACY: Here is a scene from the book:
“What else am I supposed to do? Lay in bed and wallow in self-pity?” he asked, crinkling his nose. “That sounds boring. And like a waste of time.”
“You’d be surprised how many do, though. And trust me, their recovery time is a lot slower than yours.”
Bryan got married, had kids, graduated college, and has a full time job. All without the use of his arms or his legs. He blows through a straw to drive his wheelchair and uses a lot of voice recognition technology to help him accomplish things. But he is living a complete, full life.
RA: Wow, that's really amazing. It could make us think twice about the things we let hold us back. What audiences do you think would most enjoy your book?
STACY: It's general fiction, and also inspirational fiction. So anyone who enjoys stories of triumph and overcoming the odds.
RA: Thank you. I have the link to 'My Name is Bryan' (find it on Amazon here), but are there any other links you'd like to share?
STACY: Thank you so much for taking interest in this story!
(Stacy shared the link to the following book trailer.)
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Publisher: FeatherWeight Press
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Intelligent Corrine, abandoned by her mother, and artsy Jamie, forced to play football by a redneck father, both dream of leaving their podunk town and never looking back. Their shared love of literature and a dream of a better life bring them together and a romance blossoms between them in a secret place of their own in the steamy North Carolina woods. When Jamie is involved in the accidental death of a white girl, he's terrified of his abusive father. Corrine takes the blame to protect Jaime, with dire consequences for herself and her dreams of the future. Her life in danger, Corrine's left wondering if Jamie ever cared about her at all.
Find it here:
Barnes and Noble
Lisa T. Cresswell Biography
Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play "The Queen of the Nile" at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that's why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?
Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.
Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!
The short story is that I was recently informed that 'Kergulen' is full of typos and other problems. It turns out that the kindle version was somehow the wrong version, not the final draft, and people have been downloading the wrong thing. I had added some info to the back of the book, and must have used the wrong file. And then I deleted all the other files so I wouldn't mix them up. The short, short story is 'idiot'. The paperback version is still OK, although since I'm re-editing and making some other suggested improvements, I will eventually change that one, as well.
Synopsis of short story: If you recently acquired a copy of 'Kergulen', you probably have a bad version and need to sync with the new version for an update. I hope to have it finished in the next few days. Anyone who's had the book for a while should be fine, unless you got the updated bad version...I honestly don't know exactly how that works. I'm just going to try to fix it and move on. Uhg.
The following is an interview with Rae Lori, author of several diverse books and all around nice person. Please take the time to learn a little about her and why she does what she does.
RA: You have a lot of titles featuring diverse main characters, so you clearly think it's important. Can you share with us a little bit of why that is?
RAE: I do indeed! I grew up around a diverse group of friends with so many fascinating cultures. It's become second nature to include it in my writing because it's been my life and it's a reflection of the world we live in. When stories focus on one group, I can't help but say 'you don't know what you're missing out on!' because the real world with so many beautiful hues, backgrounds and diversity of people is something that should be reflected and celebrated in the media.
Growing up, I wasn't happy with who I was because I saw so many images that didn't celebrate my features. Growing up, I began to love myself and celebrate it and I want other young girls and women of color to experience the same. Sadly that isn't true in YA lit. It's one of many reasons why I wanted to dip my pen into the world because I want to empower those young women to be comfortable in their skin with positive images of heroines that look like them. I'm hoping I can achieve that.
RA: Was there anyone who inspired you to become a writer, a mentor or an author? Or is this something you’ve done without the benefit of a role model?
RAE: I had a mentor and a few English teachers that said I should be a writer. I loved writing because it was an outlet for my imagination. When I was younger, I'd watch different movies, shows and plays. I'd get story inspiration from them with more diverse characters and I loved writing them out with different scenarios and endings. Eventually I shared them with classmates and teachers and in high school I met my mentor who would help me with story structure, characterization and all that. So I guess it was something I've done since I was really young but eventually became a better writer with guidance and crit partners.
RA: It's great that you had people encouraging you along the way. I'm sure they're happy to see that you've gone on to do great things. For our readers, would you share a little about your favorite character creation? Who is he or she, and what do you love about him or her?:-)
RAE: Surely! I think the encouragement definitely helped because I was always unsure about my stories. I first wrote them for my amusement and it was really rewarding to have readers that were entertained by such stories!)
As for my fave character creation, that would have to be Raven Blackheart my first full length novel character. I wanted her to be a strong yet vulnerable character who still had an integrity about her even through all the adversity she had been through in her life. There is a lot of myself in her and a lot of what I always wanted to see in a heroine that kicks butt. She had a lot to overcome as far as trust in herself, her abilities and falling in love again after her losing the love of her life and family.
RA: Wow, she sounds like an interesting character. Can you share some links with us so we can find her and your other work?
REA: Thanks! :-) And surely! Readers can learn more about Raven, her world and her love interest Russell Li at the webpage.
My works (current and upcoming) are listed at my book page.
RA: Cool! Thanks for joining us!
Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog! Around here you'll find posts about my books and my family, as well as the occasional relevant book review.