Friday, September 28, 2012

death notice

We had a couple of deaths in the church this week.  We find out about it, usually, when Pastor Slater sends out a blanket email and in the subject line it says – death notice.  Not capitilized. As though death isn’t worth big letters. As though we’re noting  only the next stage of Life; because that’s what we believe.

Still, I don’t open those emails quickly. I sit and stare at the screen for a bit and wonder who it is this time. Someone who has been very sick for a while, who  was maybe ready to take the angel’s hand and go home? Death doesn’t sneak up on those people. I always hope it’s that.

But I open the email. I let out a quiet, “Oh” each time. I know the families. My heart goes out to them because it was an elderly parent who died. Immediately I think of my own mother’s death out in California in 2011. I know how it is.

You hold it together and console each other with the words that have echoed through funeral halls forever – in a better place, she’s finally with Grandpa, there’s no more pain for him now. And it’s all true. And you believe it. But then you get sideswiped by some little thing.

We had decided to meet at Mom’s apartment to do the necessary sorting of her things. It was such a small place and we didn’t think it would take that long, but we were wrong. It’s amazing what one woman can stow away in cupboards, drawers and closets in a tiny apartment. There were six of us for the task and we tucked in and got to it, wiping a tear now and then; stopping to giggle over some silly old picture or piece of jewelry we just couldn’t fathom why she’d saved.

One by one the boxes were packed, items were claimed, and we hauled it all to individual vehicles. I got the angel picture. Back home in New York I hung it in the bedroom where I write and tucked Mom’s picture into one corner. Finally my sister, Shari, and I made one more pass around the almost empty apartment and  walked out into the hallway to exit the complex.

Just then we were approached by a small Asian woman, an across the hall neighbor of Mom’s. She must have noticed all the hubbub, and she reached over to gently put her hand on my arm. I smiled.

“Your Mama, she die?” the woman asked, her eyes darting to the still open apartment door.

Shari and I looked each other, at her, and nodded.

The woman said, almost in a whisper, “It okay. She go . . “ and then she pointed to Heaven.

Suddenly all my holding it together was shredded into a thousand Mom shaped pieces and I couldn't say a single word. 

It’s the little things that get you.

God bless you Beegee and Donna and your families in the days to come. Someone you loved has indeed gone home and we’ll all follow someday - in the Lord’s good time.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A New Season - Unwrapped

I am rarely able to write a blog post on Tuesdays. That’s the day of the week set aside for grandchildren, two of them, Melodi and Sierra. I used to call it Toddler Tuesday until they both grew out of that stage. Now, with Melodi at 4 and Sierra at 20 months, they’re able to have little adventures at Grandma’s house. Over the summer we held the Kid Olympics out in the yard on the playset. The kiddie pools spoke to their inner mermaids and Grandpa’s garden was always a glorious romp through tomatoes, squash, watermelons and yes - pumpkins - one for each kid. Sometimes we even spotted a toad or a cricket.

So what did we do yesterday? We got ready for Fall and Halloween. I hauled the box from the attic that held the carefully stored decorations. Oh, what little treasures we found all wrapped in crumpled tissue paper! Each time I pulled a bundle from the box and said, “Oh, boy, what’s this?” their eyes were like saucers. There was a cellophane goodie bag full of small gee gaws like vampire teeth and pumpkin rings. Melodi loved chasing me with the red fangs hanging. There was a whole family of ceramic pumpkins, a wooden goose, some pretty fall napkins and then we pulled this from the box . . .

We'll hang it outside beneath the back porch light. I found it at the Lion’s Club tag sale a few years ago.

Melodi pulled the tissue away from one of the fabric pumpkins I made many years ago from a pattern I found in a magazine. Our oldest granddaughter, Elaina, was the toddler that year. The pumpkins are a little worn, but tied up with so many memories I just can’t part with them. They’ll go on the mantel in the living room beside the brand new photo of all six grandkids.

We unpacked the beautiful candy dishes my friend, Karen, gave me. A big old bag from CVS held the fake fall foliage that I used to replace the spring flowers in our giant grapevine wreath hanging in the dining room. Karen also gave me this . . .

And the bears, too, from the same Lion’s Club tag sale. Do they look autunmn-y or what?

Finally everything was unwrapped and we scurried to set them just so, here and there with a festive air. The house has taken on the look of a whole new season thanks to two little darlings whose enthusiasm helps their sometimes weary Grandma take delight in it once more. How do you get ready for a  new season?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Odd Little Things

One of the reasons I didn't become a rocket scientist is because a lot of stuff like equations, formulas, and finding life on other planets never interested me much. On the other hand, I have a genuine gift for retaining incredibly irrrelevant bits of trivia. I've recently discovered some new bits that you might want to retain, too. Unless, of course, you're a rocket scientist. You guys should go visit the NASA blog. Okay?

The split-fingered Vulcan salute from Star Trek is derived from an Orthodox Jewish ritual called the Blessing Hands, which is used to anoint congregations on holy days. Leonard Nimoy, whose grandfather was Orthodox, remembered the hand gesture from his childhood visits to the synagogue and borrowed it for his role as Mr. Spock.
In a 2004 episode of Sesame Street, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

In 1976 Bruce Springsteen was nabbed by security guards when he tried to scale the wall outside Graceland to meet Elvis.

The most expensive thing sold on eBay was a $168 million yacht.

Stephanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta began learning to play piano at the age of four and wrote her first piano ballad at 13, long before she became known as Lady Gaga.

Owls are unable to move their eyeballs.

Your average dream lasts about 20 minutes.

More than half of Americans can name the Three Stooges, but less than 17% can name three Supreme Court Judges.

Okay, that last one got me so I stopped and thought – I can name this many off the top of my head (you know, without going inside and digging around):

Antonin Scalia
Chief Justice John Roberts
Sonia Sotomayor
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Clarence Thomas

Those I didn’t have to Google. These I did:

Anthony Kennedy
Stephen Bryer
Samuel Alito
Elena Kagan
David Souter
John Paul Stevens (retired)
Sandra Day O’Connor (retired) I knew this one, just wasn't counting the retired ones.

Did you stop reading and test yourself? No – not on the Three Stooges. I know you’ve got that one down cold.

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

About Aging

Yesterday I had to mail a small package from the post office. There was one person ahead of me at the counter whom the postal worker obviously knew. It’s like that in our small town. I wasn’t paying too much attention to their friendly conversation until the postal worker mentioned turning fifty this year. Boy, you could have fooled me. She looked good, tanned and trim, painted nails, a bright cheerful smile.

It got me thinking about aging – something we all do every day. A newborn on day two of his life is twice as old as he was the day before. Talk about aging! Whereas I’m only twice as old as someone who is thirty two. Dancing numbers around like that is fun and sometimes helps to put things in perspective. To my grandchildren I look old, I guess. But if I hadn’t aged how would they recognize me? Could I still look twenty five and be Grandma to them? I don’t think so.

The fertile ground of a writer’s imagination is seeded with thoughts like this. While penning my mystery - working around in the little gray cells - I indulged in some critical thinking about cross generational ties. Is there a great divide that cannot be crossed so that say, a teenager, could never appreciate anything an octogenarian might offer? Can a twenty year old ever come to the aid of someone who’s fifty? Aren’t we all just human beings at different stages of life with something to give in any of those stages? I came to the conclusion that we should dismiss the idea of a great divide and take wisdom, wit, humor and grace wherever we find it.

The upshot of all that heavy thinking was my decision to give my MG (main gal), Minnie Markwood, two young sidekicks. I am a bit weary of the over-emphasis these days on all things Baby Boomer and the attending baggage. Yeah, yeah, a lot of us were born in the twenty years following WWII. So what. You’ve gotta be born sometime. Minnie is a child of the those years, but Rashawna and Joel - still in their twenties - are Right Now kids and trying just as hard to make it in this world as Minnie ever did.

So they band together, giving and taking from each other, and solving a long standing crime while they’re at it. With wisdom, wit, humor, grace and a whole lotta scary. I’m so hoping this particular formula will hit a sympathetic note with my readers – no matter their ages.

When it was my turn at the post office counter, I shared some stories of turning fifty with the nice postal lady. I told her I began writing at that age and her eyes popped wide. “Really? That’s great.” Then I told her about my mystery coming out in November and that my launch would be right in Kinderhook. And she said, “Oh, you’ll have to let us know about it!”

“I’ll send you a flyer,” I said, so pleased at her response.

After all, at the tender age of fifty she's got many, many years yet to read my books. Wink. 

Image: AKARAKINGDOMS                                      Free Digital Photos                    

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

For Writers

Well, Halloween is coming, Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christimas looms. And you know, don’t you, that right after New Year’s the grocery, card and drug stores are going to be filling their display racks with pink and red hearts, ribbons, candy and flowers to tempt our pocketbooks for yet another holiday. And even before that there’s the Super Bowl; a big hairy deal with guys everywhere. That’s just the way it is. For writer’s this looking forward to the next big day is part and parcel of what we do. We’re advised to think of our commonly celebrated holidays far in advance if we want to write about them. But lately I’ve wondered if that’s necessary.

If you have one, flip through a 2013 calendar and you’ll notice that – there! – St. Patrick’s Day is still in March. Wow. And Easter is coming again this year and so is Independence Day. There will again be four seasons and tax day, the first day of summer, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and so much more. Reviewing all of this should bring to mind that favorite term of editors and writers alike; evergreen. And all of this is to say that you’ll probably do your best writing for any event or season as you experience it, not as you try to remember it. So what kind of seasonal material sells?

1.      Children’s stories – There’s not a “special day,” that goes by but that we want a story to illustrate it for our children. Next Halloween gather all the spooky you can and scribble away! Magazine editors, e-zine editors, publishers of young adult and picture books, and play publishers need your material. Be ready for this and other seasonal demands.
2.      Magazines – Don’t your eyes just zoom to that beautiful fall arrangement on the cover of Woman’s Day magazine while you’re loading lettuce and cereal onto the belt at the supermarket? Buy it. Read it. Figure out what you could do that would be perfect for them next spring while this spring is all around you.
3.      Anthologies – Many are thriving and new ones are popping up all the time. And seasonal themes abound. Christmas memories, special birthday celebrations, childhood memories of Thanksgiving – my, the list goes on. And something is coming up soon that you can write about and sell to one of them.
4.      Frugal Living – Whatever you’re learning about how to survive the brutal winter write about it – now! If some critter has invaded the garden you broke your back tending and you’ve found an economical way to solve the problem, write about it – now! Publications like Dollar Stretcher will welcome your findings. You’ll be way ahead of the other writers who are trying to think of wintry things in sweltering July or imagining balmy beaches while watching snowdrifts piling up.

Being “in the moment,” was and still is the mantra of many and it definitely has its charms. You could be one of those writers who benefits from that sentiment. Live and write in the moment for maximum affect. Try one of these markets for the excellent evergreen piece you’re about to write for whatever season you’re in right now.

Dollar Stretcher – Pays $.10 per word. See guideles at
Greenprints – Pays up to $150 for stories
Knowonder – Pays  up to $50 per story and prize money for the Editor’s Choice Award
Seattle Woman – Payment varies
Thin Threads – Pays $100 per accepted story

Of course you’ll be doing all of your regular writing in addition to your “evergreens,” but why not give yourself the edge?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 17, 2012

Other Things

Just in case you’re thinking I only write mysteries and blog posts, I thought I’d let you in on some of the other places I’m published. In Life Lessons from Teachers, released last month, I wrote about my tenth grade history teacher, Mr. Prange. My story is titled Mr. Prange Does War. The man should have been an actor. I just loved his class. My friend, Cindy, who frequently comments here, has a story in this book, too. Her dad story in Life Lessons from Dads by the same publisher is wonderful.

I’ve also got a cute story about our cat Sam, not to be confused with our grandson, Sam, in this new Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Sam the cat was named after Frodo’s best pal in Lord of the Rings. Sam our grandson was named after his maternal grandfather. We've only ever been owned by two cats, Puss and Sam. I loved them both and I think they loved me. Hubby not so much. This book is available on Amazon on September 18th. Also check for it at Blackwood and Brouwer Booksellers in Kinderhook or your own local bookstore. My story is on page 109.

We've had lots of dogs, the last two being English Springer Spaniels. I wrote one story about the first, Gracie, and how she saved hubby's life one day when he ventured onto the barn roof and almost became a monument up there. That story was in Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II. I loaned that book to someone so I can't show you the cover. And the publisher is no longer.

Anyway, you might enjoy some of the stories in these books. Go ahead and leave a review on Amazon or elsewhere if you get a chance to read them. Authors just love that!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Update - My Book

Things are rolling along nicely as the publication date for my book approaches. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m terrified or not. I’ve had a peek at the cover – very dramatic and eye catching. I’ll post it here and on my website when I have the final pdf. I’ve looked at the edited manuscript from the publisher and have spotted a few errors. I’ll return those and then I’ll get the galleys to send to reviewers. I’ve got my mailing lists in order, my launch pad – uh – location set and so much more. But here’s the crux of the inner turmoil of having a book come out all tied up in a two minute conversation.

“Your book is going to be published soon, right?” she asked.

“Yup, November first.”

“Are  you excited?”

“I’m trying not to panic.”

“Really, why?” she asked with a puzzled look on her face.

The woman next to her piped up, “She’s afraid nobody will like it.”

I was shocked and relieved that she’d pinpointed my thoughts in that simple statement. Bingo!

This happened during at a farewell barbeque at church last Sunday and the two women are mother and daughter. I’ve known them for years. The mom is my age and her daughter went to school with  my kids. Mom made her remark and chuckled at the look on my face.

“You got it,” I said. Took a vicious bite of my hot dog. Chuckled back.

And then I went on to reveal some criticisms I’d received from the reviewing editors. I didn’t want to discuss it too much and have them on the lookout for those failings in the book – just in case they buy it. But I did want to vent a little, too.

The women, along with several others at the table, took my part. They helped me understand that what I felt so chastised about wasn’t a big deal. Let it go. It’ll be fine. I love these people. Every writer should have people like these in their corner.  

So I’m trying to focus on the good things that were also said by those same editors. I know not everyone, maybe most people, will read it with such a critical eye. The editors did their job and did it well. Gosh, I’m not perfect – but didn’t I know that?

Anyway, I’m going to be a busy little bee buzzing my baby for the next several weeks. I’m so going to learn from this experience. My second book, already written, will undergo some tough scrutiny and re-vamping, too. I’ve decided I’d rather have it said that my first book was a fun, entertaining read but the second surpassed it.

Yeah, that's what I'll think.

Read about Minnie Markwood, my protagonist, here

Image: Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For Writers

Not too long ago a good friend and I giggled like teenagers as we contemplated what we were about to do; get our first “senior discount.” It was only ten percent off at one of our favorite department stores, but there was a bit of devil-may-care in our giggles that said—so what? We were about to join the millions of other men and women of a certain age who had worked in earnest at a productive life and were now reaping a small benefit from a grateful merchant.

Along with store discounts, cheaper insurance and early bird specials at some great restaurants, another benefit out there is the many publications that cater to the needs, desires, hobbies and overall changing lifestyles of the well-aged citizen. It’s occurred to me more than once what a rich bounty this is for writers!
If you think you might have some ideas that will appeal to this age group and would like to write about them, there are some things to bear in mind. For instance: Seniors do - 
  • Have sharp minds.
  • Love to laugh.
  • Enjoy sharing the highlights of their lives.
  • Like to dress well, eat well and play hard (think travel articles).
  • Have expendable income.
Gosh, seems like a great demographic to write for, doesn’t it? Here are some markets for this group.

  1. AARP the Magazine – Used to be Modern Maturity See full guidelines at
  2. Good Old Days – Write up some great memories for this one. Guidelines:
  3. Grand Magazine – A lot going on here.
Seniors are just people. Sure, they’ve lived longer and done more than some, but writing for them only needs a bit of creative sensitivity while bearing a few other things in mind: Seniors don’t –

  • Have the energy and agility they had thirty years ago.
  • Like what’s happening to their bodies.
  • Want to be left out of the technology loop.
  • Listen to loud music or text message their friends
  • Care as much as they used to about what others think.
Every person who lives for a half-century, and then some, comes to the realization that things change; sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Whereas a grandchild may be an utter delight, when it comes to horsey back rides on an old back—well—that’s a whole other story. The idea of death may not hold the terror it once did, but trying to figure out all the features on a new cell phone can make a senior’s blood pressure hit the ceiling. Writing about this side of senior life is important, too. Keeping it light and informative is what your editor will appreciate. Have a look at these markets.

1.        Arthritis Today – Primary focus is baby boomers. See guidelines at
  1. New Mobility Magazine – Another publication that will appreciate a senior slant. Guidelines available here:
My list of senior do’s and don’ts, of course, does not apply to everyone. As with any age group you choose to address, there is wide diversity. By simply living I, and hundreds of other, have passed into the realm our society designates “senior’ and it hardly bothers me at all. And I’m going to resist the temptation to put forth the old saw, “consider the alternative,” which is—staying eighteen forever. Good grief, who would want to do that? Certainly not my friend and I. We’re looking for discounts and great articles everywhere these days!

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 10, 2012

On Writing

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was seventeen. I didn’t get around to doing anything about it until I was several decades beyond that. By that time I was pretty sure children’s stories were my thing so I began there. I liked children, had a way with words and of course it was a ridiculously simple thing to write for children. I had some success with poems and articles, but my picture book manuscripts kept coming back to me. Huh. What could those publishers want that I wasn’t providing? For crying out loud some kids books only had fifty or sixty words. Undaunted, I kept writing and hoping.

I think the worm began to turn the day I got one particular piece back. As far as submissions go I’d done everything correctly. My contact information was right up there in the corner and each subsequent page identified with a number and my name. I’d included my SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). Oh – and I thought it was a darned good story, too.

So after the typically long writer’s wait I tripped along to the mailbox one day and there was my SASE back from the publisher. But something was odd. It had been sealed with wide tan colored tape and in additon – I swear this happened – it looked as though someone had run over it with their car or maybe even a truck. There were black tire track looking marks running straight across the back of the envelope. Geez.

I’ve been writing pretty much for adults ever since.

PS: I will still write for children when inspiration hits me upside the head demanding it. I have one children’s Christmas story I’d still like to sell to a picture book publisher. That would be so cool, right Cindy? So if you know any publishers looking for one, let me know.

Image: imagerymajestic                                                          Free Digital Photos

Friday, September 7, 2012

Swallows and Dragonflies

Last night I took a walk; the one I’d hoped to take two or three times a week all summer but didn’t.  I laced up my sneakers and stepped out the back door in time to see the deer at the top of the hill near the garden. I quietly moved down the gravel walkway and looking back saw one of them staring at me. Intruder – her eyes seemed to say. In my own yard. Then I headed up the road to Plum Tree Drive where there are only a few houses on the long winding road and where all the wiring is underground so nothing obscures the view.

The main road noises diminished as I walked further on and I suddenly remembered another walk. The one where I saw the cloud formation. Madonna and Child. It formed more clearly with each step I took and amazed me. I kept expecting a gust of wind or the angle of the sun to change it, but that didn't happen. I felt somehow guarded and smiled as I watched. The image didn’t go away until I stopped thinking about what it could mean.

As I rounded a bend in the road and found myself at the bottom of a short rise I thought of the gray cat. At the top of that rise she had sauntered out of the woods onto the road, turned and sat to face me. She'd gently moved her tail to cover her feet and looked for all the world like a queen. Majestic. Composed. I expected her to flee as I approached but no – she just watched. I spoke soft kitty words to her and then, when I actually did get too close, she stood, turned and walked back into the woods. I guess my session with royalty was over, but I was charmed all the same. 

Last night, though, there were no cloud visions or queenly felines. I’d walked a ways beyond where I’d seen the gray cat when the swallows began to dart about. Swooping and diving through the air above my head. Joyous in flight. They looked like arrows, swift as Olympians, shot from the Creators bow their dark wings tucked into white bellys tinged with gold. A delight to watch as they dipped and bobbed through the evening air. I envied them.

The dragonflies then darted up from the ditch at the side of the road, startling me. Several of them all at once. A few flew close enough for me to see the lacy patterns of their wings and bulbous eyes. They briefly occupied the airspace beneath the swallows and I felt priveledged to observe Nature’s Dance. I thought of the quillow I’d made for my oldest granddaughter one Christimas using a muted green cotton fabric covered with golden dragonflies.  

September makes summer look a little dusty and worn. As I neared the main road I noticed a few sad remnants of Queen Anne’s Lace. Her lovely companions, the cornflowers – blue-eyed and jaunty -  had left her. All through the summer their little heads had popped back up together whenever a car or truck whooshed by within inches, the drivers hardly noticing. But no more. The queen’s children are cowering now among bolder weeds that have grown up to crowd them out.

Squirrels were everywhere furtively scrambling for bits to tuck away. As if they know what’s coming. I tried not to think of the house with all the windows shut against winter’s onslaught never mind facing the heating bills again. So I put it out of my mind as I bounced along towards home. The dark days would come soon enough.

What did you do last night?  

Image: Theerdech Sanin                                                  Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

For Writers

While I recover from company,  review the copy edits of my book, and try to think of how I'm going to get all twenty one windows in this house clean by Halloween, I thought you might enjoy this article from my files. One of the first I ever wrote - only slightly edited.

An Image, A Notion, A Story 

I looked up the word idea in the dictionary. Among several definitions these popped out at me; mental image or fanciful notion. That’s just the way a story starts isn’t it? Think of how often you get a brilliant flash of insight, your mental image, while doing something completely mundane like folding laundry. Or you may let a fanciful notion carry you away to some delightful land where all boundaries are liquid and strange magical things happen. What type of stories do you like to write? Let’s flesh out some categories and see what we come up with. This is a short list to get you started.

  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Young Adult
  • Picture Book
  • Mystery

Ah, Fantasy. It implores us to leave our present reality and wander off into the world of what if and far out imaginings. Science Fiction, on the other hand, wants us right at the edge of reality. That way when the bizarre thing happens, it has shock value. Young adult fiction forces us backward and sometimes bids us re-visit painful, half-forgotten scenarios that nonetheless offer great insight into what our young characters might be thinking and doing. Picture book writing can be the most fun of all because you get to be a little kid again. It’s one of my favorite writing forms. And then there’s mystery. Start with the murder (so to speak)…then work your tangled web around it.

Whatever would we do without picture books? Ask anyone who loves them and you’ll almost always hear how picture books affected them when they were growing up. When I was five, my poor mother had to read Cinderella to me every day at naptime. I never tired of it. A well-written picture book is a direct transport back to Mom’s, Dad’s, or Grandma’s lap; a temporary safe haven from life’s often harsh realities. All the key elements of any other book must be there; engaging characters, plot, conflict and resolution. Think up the problem and then let your character or characters have a ball solving it – in 800 words or less.

Fantasies, such as Lord of the Rings, will always hold a place in my heart. I’ve read Tolkiens’ trilogy three times – so far. The world that is created in a fantasy must be so inviting that the people who read about it should want to go there. You, the author, must bid them step through the mirror and with your deft hand, lay before them a realm where dragons, spaceships, wood sprites, goblins, blue fairies or any number of magical creatures and adventures lie. Give them a reluctant hero, a rib-tickling sidekick and a quest and you might wind up richer than the queen of England too.

I’ve written exactly one children’s mystery. It was hard! It required a sort of backwards thinking or a ”start with the murder” scenario. I knew how I wanted it to end and working backwards was a whole new kind of torture in my writing experience but I rose to the challenge. The story has intrigue, odd behaviors, clues and broccoli. Yup, broccoli. The ‘murder’ in this case was the madcap boiling and gobbling up of the bright green veggie that kids, and many adults, love to hate.  I started there and built my mystery around it.

You’ve heard it before – read, read, read in your chosen genre (which simply means sort or type). I agree with that to a point. Please don’t do it to the detriment of your own writing. Stories that others have skillfully crafted are wonderful for IMT, inspiration, motivation and technique, but eventually you have to get serious and put your own stories out there for all the world to read.

Pick a genre, one that you love. Become it. Let it seep into everyday occurrences and conversations. Be silly with it. Be awed by it. Talk to children about it. In other words immerse yourself. I’ll never forget a pivotal point in one of the battle scenes in LOTR. I was so stirred by the description of a battle and its surprising outcome that I actually leaped out of my chair, one fist thrust into the air and yelled, “Wahoo! Good for Arwen!” To say I was immersed would be a major understatement. Fortunately I was alone in the room! 

Go to the library. Load up your arms with picture books, fantasy books, mysteries or whatever strikes your fancy. Take them home and read them. Edit them…yeah…go ahead. Think of how the author might have improved on this plot point or that snippet of conversation. Change the ending. Read them out loud. Then take them back to the library so the other kids can borrow them and go to your keyboard and create. Imitate the good story telling intent of what you’ve read.
Don’t let any good notion or story idea go untested. Who would have every thought, for instance, that children would love a character that lives underwater and looks alarmingly like the sponge you wipe the bathroom sink with? Talk about fanciful notions. Remember, an idea is simply a mental image or notion, fleshed out, enriched and hopefully for you, becomes a wonderful full-fledged story – one an editor will love.

Image: Free Digital Photos