Thursday, May 21, 2015

Entry for THE WRITERS VOICE 2015

MG Contemporary
approx. 50,000 words

A 79-mile road trip on a riding mower could scare any twelve-year-old. But for Cole, a boy whose Autism Spectrum Disorder makes him hate leaving his own house, even the thought is terrifying.

The one thing Cole fears more, however, is losing his best friend Lace. Maybe Cole's only met her through video chats, but Lace is the one person who treats him like a hero instead of a freak. So when she announces that her step dad plans to send her to a mental hospital, Cole sets off on his speed-enhanced riding mower to meet up with Lace and get her safely to her grandma's home in Nevada. Cole is sure rescuing Lace is also the perfect way to prove he's not only ordinary, but brave. They outrun a search helicopter, angry truckers, and the highway patrol, but Cole's growing Fear List is harder to shake.

Cole fights his phobias with an arsenal of ingenious solutions from hidden ATV trails to a fizzing root beer fire extinguisher, but getting back on the mower is easy compared to getting stuck between giving Lace the rescue she wants or the one she really needs. Cole started his journey hoping to find somewhere to finally feel normal. Instead, Cole uncovers the brilliance hidden inside being different.

Lawnmower, Leaving. 

Leaving Reason, #1. Mom thinks I’m stupid enough to run over my second-best friend.

The rope tied to the chassis pulls Brock across the grass. My friend thinks we're just lawn sledding, but I have a better plan. First the wheels hit the pressure switch I hid under some leaves. Then the sprinkler next to Brock spurts into action.

“You got me good this time.” He laughs and runs out of the spraying water. 

“Perfect timing.” I check the video and smile. My newest invention worked.

Brock watches the replay over my shoulder. “It looks like I peed my pants. Delete that part, okay?”

“Fine. But it’s your turn to drive.” I grab the foot sled I welded out of cookie sheets.

Then I see Mom. She must have walked off the porch just as the sprinklers turned on. Now she’s soaked. “Sorry.” I cringe.

Mom wipes her wet glasses, then points at me with the pen she chews when she pays bills. “We’ll forget the sprinklers for now. But mowers have blades, Cole. What if you ran over Brock’s foot?”

The lawnmower’s off, but Mom’s words buzz louder than engine noise. Going barefoot always felt good. Until now. 

Mom chews her pen, probably adding stuff to her “Fix Cole Plan.” 

But maybe I can make her smile. “We’re recording a video.” I hold up the camera. “It’s called, ‘Don’t Try this at Home.’” 

Brock laughs. 

Mom doesn’t. “You can’t try it at our home either. Sorry.” 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Inspirational Storymakers Keynote, Martine Leavitt

I have known Martine Leavitt for some time now. She's the most gracious, and kind person you could ever meet. Martine was my WIFYR Conference instructor for 2 and 1/2 (the half is a long story) workshops, including two years ago when I got to be her assisstant. She's smart, well prepared and I just wanted to soak in all that knowledge. I'm trying hard to incorporate what she taught me, from emotional and concrete desires and objective correllative to metaphor.

Martine also encouraged me to keep writing and believe in my gift. That means more than I can say.

Last weekend as the LDStorymakers conference keynote speaker, Martine shared her personal experiences with writing.

Martine has seven children, and says she used a trick of putting them in the tub with lots of bubbles and writing as she sat on the toilet seat.

"I couldn’t write to a certain word count, or a certain number of pages. Nothing could be guaranteed. But I needed to write myself soul-fed and happy. I discovered that I didn’t need to write a lot to be happy, I just needed to write something good. I found that even a single perfect, beautiful sentence with perhaps a fresh and compelling image, could make me feel nourished and ready to take on the burgeoning masses."

Exactly. I, too, need to write to feel soul-fed and happy. I recently listened to part of a Q&A with David Archuleta on He described not understanding his feelings until he began to sing. When my feelings confuse me, I write them out until they make sense.

Martine spoke of how each writer has different needs. Like Virginia Woolfe, she wanted time and a place of her own. But writing while seated at the edge of a child-and-bubble filled tub taught her "to write spare and taut, to write each word as if it were special, precious, to write a sentence that nobody else in the world had written."

Just as she was asked to teach at Vermont College of Fine Arts, a part-time position that would give her the time she craved, Martine was also asked to serve as Relief Society president, a very busy LDS church position where she would work closely with the local bishop and be responsible to administer to the needs of all the women in the local congregation. As she did for her children, Martine again sacrficed her precious time.

Martine told us that her time in church service taught her love, an emotion that she poured into her next incredible book, MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL. She says, "It was a small book written with great love. As it turns out, learning to love better was something I needed more than time."

I came home after the keynote to very unexpected news that made me weep. Which made me all the more grateful for these words from Martine: "The very things that appear to be obstacles may be the very thing we need to make our first book or our next book the best book we can write."

It isn't so much that I think of my life trials simply as future book material. It's much more than that. I can only write that which I am. Martine's books are full of hope, goodness, compassion and light simply because that's who she is. Martine is someone who chose to take her life experiences as a mother, a single parent, a student, a teacher, and a woman of faith, and learned to craft not only one perfect sentence, many quite perfect books, but also to write a life. The audience, seeing the result of effort combined with love, gave her a standing ovation. Martine touched our hearts and inspired us. I hope to emulate her example both in my days and in my writing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

REMAKE BOOK TRAILER and a Gift Card Giveaway!

Recently I blogged about Ilima Todd's new book, REMAKE. Speaking of Ilima, she just revealed her new book trailer. Take a look:

Who likes gift cards? How about a $25 Amazon gift card? (I can always use more books!) If so, here's the link to a REMAKE trailer Rafflecopter giveaway.