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Thursday, March 31, 2011

April A to Z

What have I done? What have I done? Let the renting of garments begin. I've committed myself to the April A to Z Challenge: Blogging every day of April except Sundays. Not only that, but I must post blogs in alphabetical order.

What was I thinking? It sounded like so much fun when I signed on, but now, now that I'm faced with actually doing it, I'm faltering, afraid of failure. Even so, I press on.
I've decided to get organized around an overall theme for the month of April. Taking a cue from the writer side of me, I will blog a literary term or device for each day - the definition, an example from literature, and my try at using it.

To make things more interesting, My Try with the literary device of the day will be incorporated into the tale of Netty Duggan, a sweet southern belle with a hidden secret. Even I do not yet know what her secret is, as it will only be revealed through the daily, alphabetical unfolding of her story.

A useful, entertaining dictionary of basic literary devices and terms is the goal. Your input, as always is welcomed. Post your comment with your own example of the literary device of the day. Suggest what you think should happen next in Netty's saga. Take a guess at what you think her secret is (you can do this today, if you like).

I do hope my efforts don't turn into an all out alphabetical massacre of the English language.

April 1st - alliteration. How appropriate.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Downside of Perfect Parenting

There is a growing trend in America for parents, mainly mothers, to obsess over their children. Parents are seeking perfection by investing themselves heavily in every waking moment of their children's lives. When they're not actively enaged with their children, they fill their adult relationships with stories of their parenting prowess.

Earlier this month, for a forthcoming article in Augusta Family Magazine, I interviewed parenting expert John Rosemond about this topic. This short clip is a must-listen for every parent. Are you the person he's describing? Is yours the marriage he's describing? A real eye-opener:

Don't get defensive. Rosemond is not advocating that we all become Glass Castle mothers. He's encouraging us to quit marginalizing our husbands and crippling our children. Think about how often you correct your husband in his parenting efforts or write him off as unable to do it like you, therefore, as incompetent. Consider whether or not you're willing to let your child try and fail. Do you do his school projects while he reads the rubric to you? Are you quick to step in and handle social skirmishes between your daughter and her friends? There is a happy middle ground between Running with Scissors and micromanagement.

Get great parenting tips and advice from John Rosemond's books, web site and weekly newspaper column. Look for my article coming out in the May/Jun issue of Augusta Family Magazine.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Southern Fried Cyberspace

Photographer: Molly Edmondson, A Good Southern Girl.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Powerful Woman Writer Award

Thank you to Deirdra at A Storybook World for this fabulous Powerful Woman Writer Award. I'm thrilled to receive it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Does Thinking It Make It So?

I've always been one of those people who could read a list of symptoms for a medical or mental illness and instantly diagnose myself with it. If WebMD says the symptoms for Crow Toe Tensilitis are knotted pinky toes, calloused undersoles, high arches, scaly skin, and long nose hairs, well by-golly I've got the worst case of Crow Toe Tensilitis anyone has ever seen. I get myself worked up about what to wear in the picture they're going to take of me to put on the examining room posters doctors put up to warn patients of maladies they never even dreamed existed. There will be my crow-toed foot right next to the weeping testicle poster, grossing people out so much that they watch their thumbs twiddle to keep from looking at it.

As it turns out, my irrationality is genetically contagious.My 5th grader is convinced he has diabetes.

He jumped in the car after school one day, wild-eyed and jabbering about how I needed to drive him directly to the doctor's office. When he told me his trouble, naturally, I asked him what on earth gave him the idea that he has diabetes.

A kid at school gave a poster presentation on diabetes. A poster presentation on diabetes by a 5th grader who researched it and put it together two nights prior is as good as going to WebMD. "I have all of the symptoms," my child claimed. "He said sometimes your vision blacks out and you have to go to the bathroom a lot and you get really thirsty and drink a lot of water."

Although it was certainly evident that the presentation transfixed my son, he still hadn't provided proof of diabetes ailing him personally. "And you think all of this happens to you?" I asked, completely able to possess logic in the face of someone else's break with reality.

"Yes, ma'am," he answered. "You know when we go on a trip and Daddy buys me a coke to drink in the car and then I tell y'all I have to go to the bathroom and y'all get mad at me? It's because I think I have diabetes."

He's upstairs right now picking out the clothes he'll wear when they come to take the picture of him to put on the doctors' office diabetes poster. It'll hang right next to the one of me and my classic case of Crow Toe Tensilitis.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writer's Block: Turning Nothing to Write about into Writing about Nothing

Whether a person writes for public consumption or participates in private journaling, she will eventually suffer writer's block. It happens without warning on any random day at any given time. She finds herself plumb out of ideas or inspiration. Both seasoned and novice wirters, alike, experience the doldrums and paralyzing defeat of writer's block. But with some creativity, which writing is all about, a solution is found.

In this clip from my visit with NES Book Club, I share a bit about my own struggles with writer's block:

Need a speaker for your next book club meeting? Invite me as your guest to discuss either of my books, If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny or Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. Contact me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Visionary Powers

My mother called this morning to say how sorry she was to hear about my second-oldest son almost having rabies. "What?" I laughed. "Rabies?"

"That's what I hear," she said, coyly.

"Where did you hear that?" I asked. Before she even told me, however, I knew. She heard it where everybody hears everything: in the car with my daughter.

My 9 year-old daughter, upon whom God has put the pressure of meeting a daily quota of words and who regularly asks, without taking a breath, "Okay, what do you want to talk about now?" reported to my mother that my 13 year-old was bitten by a fierce, feral cat that pounced on him from the woods and tore his flesh in two perfect X-marks.

As my mother told the particulars, the incident, which happened about 2 years ago but which my daughter told about as if it occurred yesterday, returned to mind. It was a vaccinated cat belonging to a neighbor and my son had been playing with it. It did bite him and break the skin and I did have to call the neighbors to confirm that my child would not contract rabies. The entire episode lasted all of about 20 minutes one evening around dinner. I would think the memory of the dog putting a dead mole on her brother's pillow, and all the screaming and shouting and recoiling and sheet washing that accompanied the gift, would be far more vivid and interesting to share.

"She told us that luckily he doesn't have rabies," continued my mother. "It was a close call, though." My mother asked my daughter how I could tell that my son didn't have the dreaded hydrophoby. Another little girl riding in the car wanted to know to which veterinarian we took my son to get the diagnosis of almost rabies.

No vet needed, the youngster informed them. She assured them that I could tell from looking at him that he didn't have a full-fledged case, only a near case. Just like, I suppose, I could look at that mole the dog left on the child's pillow and tell that it was all-the-way dead and rancid, not a little bit dead. God gave her a word quota, but he gave me visionary powers.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Etsy Benefit for Japan

I'm joining in on a blog hop to benefit Japan. Click on the pic to visit the Etsy dealers who are donating a portion of their sales to the effort to aid Japan's citizens. When I think of them, I think of the mothers and children who need our help to put their lives back together.

The Unexpected Mother


Lucy Adams Talks about her Writing Style

During a recent visit to NES Book Club to discuss Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, I shared the secret of my writing style:

I'm available to visit your book club, as well, either in person or via Skype. Contact me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Writing Her Friends' Lives

Recently, I gathered with the members of the NES Book Club to talk about my new book, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. They had many excellent questions for me; not just about the stories in the book, but also about the writing process and how I refine my craft.

An entire chapter in Tuck Your Skirt features stories about my friends and their various humorous mishaps. The group asked me about it:

I'm available to be a guest at your book club, too. Contact me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Water Cycle Song

She's come a long way since the singing fingers:

Kicking up her performance, she stars with her best friend as they perform their original, The Water Cycle Song. She even shows her face in this one. Stay tuned all the way through to the bloopers at the very end:

Is America's Got Talent ready for this duo?

Monday, March 7, 2011

How to Talk to Your Child about Death

It's tough talking to kids about some topics. Death, in particular, gives adults a hard time. We usually put off talking about it until it's a relevant issue in our lives and the lives of our children; until we ourselves are grieving. We put it off because we don't want to burden our children with sad thoughts, we don't want them to worry about such things. As parents, we strive to preserve the innocence of childhood for as long as we can.

But death is a natural part of living. Pets die. People die. If we talk to our children about death, just like we talk to them about the weather and about eating healthy foods and about their day at school, we better prepare them for coping with it. In her book, Why Do People Die?, Cynthia MacGregor helps parents explain death to their children.

Her perceptive analogy comparing toys and clothes wearing out, something any child who has ever had a favorite pair of shoes or doll or t-shirt can understand, to a body wearing out makes the abstract notion of death more concrete. MacGregor also tackles the many emotions a child might experience while grieving and lets the child know that these emotions are acceptable and normal. Excellent iillustrations accompany the text.

Although a very useful tool for parents, the book almost provides too much information in one sitting for a child to absorb. More than simply covering why people die and how we might feel about it, it also discusses funerals, the different kinds and what children can expect to happen before, during and after, and various beliefs about what happens to people after they die.

Nonetheless, Why Do People Die? offers excellent talking points to parents who may have difficulty finding the right words to explain death to their children. It's a great conversation starter between parent and child, letting children know it's okay to ask questions; that death is natural and not a taboo subject.

I recommend that parents read sections of the book with their child at separate sittings, allowing time for the child to process the information. In addition, let your child keep the book to look through on his or her own. Finally, be willing to admit that death is tough for you to talk about, that it makes you feel sad, too, and to engage in even the uncomfortable conversations that may arise from your child pondering the issue of human mortality.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Words I Live By

"Go away from me with that," is a common command directed at my children. I do not want to bear witness to their petty disputes. I do not want to mediate their ridiculous disagreements. And I do not want to judge who may or may not be at fault. I refuse to let them drag me into the fray. So I banish them from my presence.

Off they go, dissatisfied that they are without an audience and now bickering about who made me mad first.

But these kids of mine are clever and cunning and have their ways of drawing me in despite myself. They've taken to recording their battles for my review. Yesterday, in preparation for a book club appearance to discuss my book,Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, I readied my supplies, which included my voice recorder so that I can make a podcast of the discussion.

My voice recorder had 12 new tracks on it. As I clicked through each one, I discovered that my offspring, thoughtful in every way, had recorded one of their numerous quarrels for my listening pleasure (I added the music for your listening pleasure):

And would you believe, when I confronted them with the fact that they had used my technology without permission, they proceeded to fill me in on the details of their tiff and wanted me to dole out punishments. Kids! Thank goodness they make me laugh.