Teach ‘Em, Then Trust ‘Em

Why are we making our children overly-sensitive and incompetent?

Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A:


My rebuttal:

obama with water gun

Exhibit 2:


My rebuttal:

Guys. Life is a series of gambles, you buys your ticket and you takes your chances. Most of the time, things turn out okay. My own mother was the most protective one in the neighborhood. But she allowed me to hop on my bike and ride through the neighborhood to Gessner, a very busy road, to catch tadpoles in the bayou. (It was still a real bayou under that bridge, then. Not a concrete drainage ditch.) When I got my Friday allowance I biked to the 7-11, where nefarious teenagers dealt doobies in the parking lot. Inside, 25-cent comic books waited for me. (Fine. She was not aware of what the teens were doing, but I didn’t bother them, and they didn’t bother me.)

While my own kids were growing up, we were fortunate to live mere blocks from a small shopping area. And a well-traveled hiking/biking trail. When they hit the age of ten, away they went. With a friend or sibling, but parentless.I knew where they were. They knew when they were expected back. If they weren’t, they knew embarrassment would ensue.

Were there close calls? I know there were for me, and I bet there were for my kids, too. But sometimes you just gotta take a deep breath, calculate the risks, and trust the universe.

Or end up parenting those kids for the rest of your life.


Outlining VS Pantsing, Again

I once heard a talk by a lovely Kansas SCBWI member—whose name I wish I could remember—about Walter Dean Myer’s process. It involved lengthy and detailed outlines.

At that moment, I wondered if I’d ever be a good writer.

Trouble is, I didn’t want to give up the freedom of pantsing. The interesting discoveries you make when you just let ‘er rip.

I’m starting a new story and this time, I’m making the effort to get the bones in place, first. With the caveat that I’m still free to run wild and crazy when belching out my first draft.

Two memes for the price of one.

Two memes for the price of one.

I hope the extra time spent pre-loading the manuscript makes me write faster. And still gives me room for those Aha! moments.


Because that’s what makes it fun.

Not Writing Is Still Writing

There’s more to writing than–well, writing.

This weekend, our group of long-time writing friends is on retreat. (And no, I’m not mentioning it here on the blog to document that fact for the IRS. Though that’s a pretty good idea.)

Sure, I brought my laptop. But this is the first day I’ve fired it up–because I’ve spent the first 48 hours in our cozy cabin paradise, pondering.

I’ve spent time trying on character names, drawing maps, diagramming plot points. To dig down deep. Find the truth in my story.

Don’t get so set on word count goals and outlines that you forget to dream.

adorable puppies sleeping. you're welcome.

adorable puppies sleeping. you’re welcome.

I’m Baa-aack

Hello, race fans.

dog girl race

I’m finally back, for good. Mostly. Let me tell you why my presence on This Old Blog has been sporadic, at best.

I’ve been busy.


Thing is, there’s only so much time in the day. So you gotta prioritize. When commitments or health or responsibilities or circumstances leave you a small window of time to write, do you spend that time on Pinterest? Twitter?

Well, heck no. You spend that time on your writing. Because a spiffy Social Media Presence is not going to get you published, only a spiffy manuscript will.


Behold, the wild Pigator. With flying fetus.


Leela Alcorn.

I’ve been off the internet and only heard her story a couple of days ago. If you’ve been AWOL too, I’ll catch you up.

Leela was born a boy on the outside and a girl on the inside. To ultra-religious parents who sent her for faith-based counseling to change her mind. Punished her by taking her out of school and barring her from online support. Told her God didn’t make mistakes, which by their interpretation, meant she was immoral and crazy to feel the way she did.

I love it when people tell you how wrong your feelings are.

So Leela stepped in front of a semi. Her suicide note came up later, on her Tumblr.

Oh, it’s been taken down. As well as her mother’s note on Facebook mourning her “son’s accident”.

Read the note. It’s a little self-serving and demand-y, but it’s also bleeding with despair. And I do not see how her parents could refuse to bleed with her.

Parents have dreams for their children. I’ve always hoped all mine end up with fulfilling careers and an opposite-gendered spouse and chubby, curly-haired kids. Because that’s what I think will bring them joy. But if it doesn’t, what’s more important—my dream or their happiness?

I don’t think Leela’s parents had to compromise their beliefs by aiding Joshua’s transition to Leela. But they did have a responsibility to send her to unbiased counselors who could help Leela cope and make plans.

And love her.


Thanks for all your kind words, it is a pleasure serving you people.

And so to pick the recipient of the KidLit Scoop 100th Issue Giveaway, I counted the number of comments and generated a random number between one and twenty-nine. (One being the first comment, two the second…)



Jeanne Kasten!

Thanks again for playing along, I had a blast.

Win Valuable Prizes in the KidLit Scoop 100th Issue Give-away

When I was putting the KidLit Scoop together last week, I realized how close we were to a spectacular milestone:


It’s become a ritual, editing the newsletter every Sunday while I sprawl upon the couch and get a Netflix tan. I hope the KidLit Scoop has become a Monday morning ritual for you too, as we pick our way through the Children’s Publishing Business minefield together.

Celebrate the 100th issue of the Scoop with me by participating in a little give-away. Here’s how:

  1. Be a KidLit Scoop subscriber. If you already are, you’re set. If you need to be, sign up via the icon over in the sidebar on the right. AND THEN…
  2. Leave a comment below using the email that your copy of the KidLit Scoop goes to. So I can check that the winner is, indeed, a Scoop subscriber. (Your email will not be published.) Doesn’t matter if you want to talk about the Scoop, the gross national product or leave a dot for your comment. ALL ENTRIES ARE INCLUDED IN THE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATION.


WHOA WHOA WHOA, lady, don’t you wanna know what you can win?

Along with various and sundry writerly office supplies, the winner will receive an Anne Geddes “Down in the Garden” journal and THE CURIOSITIES: a collection of stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff, SIGNED BY ALL 3 AUTHORS. Behold:


enthusiastic dog not included.

Contest closes 12:01 AM ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14TH. Winner will be drawn and announced in the 100th issue of the Kidlit Scoop, and on this blog on Monday, December 15th.

Enter below. Be a sport and tweet this link if you have time, will ya?

Get the Most Out of Your Ghost…Tour

It’s that time of year again, full of thrills and chills and things that go bump in the night.


When many usually sane people decide to attend commercial haunted houses and ghost tours.

Now, I haven’t attended a haunted house and I never will, based on this:


flashight gif

And this:




And this:



But I have gone on a bunch of ghost tours, and I’ve got a few tips for writers and others about…



  1. Stay in the front–sounds obvious. But if you trail the group you will miss things. Even if the Ghost Walk Conductor uses a bullhorn, you’re gonna miss stuff. Random people walking down the street will ask you what’s going on. Other ghost tour customers will buttonhole you with their own personal ghost stories. Which are almost never any good. And the tour leader will often talk to the people in the front, off-mike.
  2. Laugh, gasp and generally encourage the guide–even if it makes you feel like a bit player in a melodrama. An engaged audience is a lot more fun for everybody–including the speaker. If he enjoys delivering his spiel, he’ll ham it up. Throw in extra tidbits of information that he might skip if he’s in a hurry to ditch a surly group.
  3. Ask questions–figure out whether your speaker is more interested in the ghosty or historical part of his job. If he’s working for a ghost tour company, he’s enthusiastic about at least one. And usually knows a lot more about his subject than he’s telling you. If you’ve got a question, ask it. But dear God, please don’t tell the group about the time your great-grandmother heard the Banshee cry. Nobody cares. Sorry.
  4. Interrupt–honest to Murgatroyd, I have become intolerant of fools in my middle age. As far as I’m concerned, a chatty audience member gets one it’s-all-about-me comment per situation. If a fellow ghost tourist feels the need to continually take the speaker’s presentation off track, interrupt with a question that will help the him get back to business. (“Did George Washington sleep here?”) Or simply repeat the last thing the tour guide said. (“You said he had a wooden leg named ‘Smith’. Go on.”) 99.999999% of the time, he will be grateful.
  5. Tip–come on, cheapskate. You flattered and cajoled your host into giving you the ghost tour of a lifetime, now tip him. And while you’re at it, ask him to recommend historical and paranormal sources you can check out. After all, this is book research, right? RIGHT?


Monkey Love–MailChimp is the Bee’s Knees

A few of you might be aware that I edit an almost-weekly newsletter called the KIDLIT SCOOP. (Which contains news and opportunities in children’s publishing. Click over on the side there, if you want to subscribe.) But have you noticed the platform I use to compose and send the newsletter to one and all?

It’s MailChimp.

MailChimp has a tiered pricing system–one price for mega-volume use, another price for medium-large customers…and for the little guy who only has a couple-hundred subscribers, it’s free.

That’s right. Free.

ANYWAY. Couple weeks ago I had a bit of trouble. So I emailed The Chimp, asking for help. The little nipper emailed me back with wonderful suggestions…and well, we got quite a little correspondence going while we tackled the problem. Which of course, got solved.




Yes! The support guy was so relieved that our correspondence was calm and pleasant, he sent me a prize!


Well, there’s more than one. First, LOOK AT THAT COOL HAT. Second, be nice and nice things will happen to you. (Which I don’t believe happens all that often, but it’s worth a try.)

Most of all, look at how MailChimp has treated me, a non-paying user. Forget the slick ads and noisy social media–

THAT. Is how you make a loyal customer. In the future, when I need to send a mass mailing to every man, woman and child in the United States of America, where do you think I’m going to go?


Check my Instagram to witness my continuing MailChimp love affair.

seven amusing tumblrs i miss terribly

Hello. Miss me?

I’ve been working like a demon for months and months on my current WIP. And am now halfway through my final pass, mere weeks away from being done.

eyepatch martin


So I thought I’d get back in ye ol’ blogging habit. Today, let us consider:



  • Sad Etsy Boyfriends–Their mission statement: “Dedicated to the wretched creatures abused for economic gains by their Etsy girlfriends.” Oh, lawsy. How I wish they’d post a few more specimens. Guys in undersized knit hats, guys in pink hoodies with green applique whales, and half-nekkid guys wearing nothing but feathers. ALL SAD.
  • Paula Deen Riding Things— “We adore Ms. Deen, and the last thing we want is to upset her.” Naw, this blog doesn’t upset Ms. Deen. Just because these two guys photoshopped Paula riding the Easter bunny, Anthony Davis’ eyebrows, and most famously, sticks of butters.
  • Tom Hanks is a Bunch of Animals–Animal photos and gifs, with various Tom Hanks heads attached. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a parakeet with Tom Hanks’ head, rolling around on a tennis ball. Please, please, please, post some more!
  •  Halloween or Williamsburg–I want this tumblr to be my best friend. Pictures of people dressed, um, eccentrically. And you’re supposed to guess if they’re wearing Halloween costumes or their usual attire. HINT: It’s never a Halloween costume.
  • Kim Jong-il Looking At Things–What a classic. The Dear Leader liked to…how should I put it? Oh yes. Look at things. Fairly intently. There aren’t going to be any more posts, I’m pretty sure you know why. What a shame.
  • Texts From Bennet–This tumblr has been picked up for publication, and hasn’t been updated for nearly five months. Woe. Is. Me. Because “These are text messages I exchange with my 17 year old cousin Bennett. He is a white boy that thinks he’s a Crip, is currently unemployed, has a girlfriend named Mercedes…by the way, this blog is 100% real.” Real HILARIOUS.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,234 other followers

%d bloggers like this: