What Would YOU Do?

Memphis_monitors-990x557You know that show, What Would You Do?, where John Quinones orchestrates outrageous situations in public places and the cameras roll to see how ordinary folks react? Last night, I attended a theater performance, and I’m not joking, I started to look around to see if I saw old John Q. hiding in the wings.

The show was Memphis, and if you have an opportunity to see this musical, you have to go–it’s SO good! If you live somewhere near me, you can see the most excellent performers at the Aurora Theater in beautiful downtown Lawrenceville, GA  till August 30th (if it’s not sold out yet!).

So the Beneficent Mr. Hall and I sat down in our seats; he was on the outside of the row. A somewhat elderly gentleman sat next to me and right away, I could tell he was a talker. Nothing wrong with that, I’m a bit of a talker myself. But then he continued to talk during the Artistic Director’s opening statements (when a very nice gentleman welcomes people to the show, thanks all the sponsors, etc.) and I began to squirm a little because that’s just a teensy bit rude, right?

Thankfully, the show started and it opens with a bang. It’s rhythm and blues and gospel and rock ‘n roll and my seatmate stopped talking.

But just for a couple minutes.

He started up again, talking about the show. And not whispering, people. He spoke in a relatively normal voice. Saying things like, “Oh, look. Now he’s gonna sing. He’s really good, isn’t he?” Or, “Uh-oh. He better not do that.” And “Can you believe this?”

Well, no. No, sir, I could not believe this. It was a constant stream of commentary throughout the performance. And then he started singing--not every word–because these are not well-known songs and it was clear that he didn’t actually know the songs. He’d just pick up on the chorus and join in on a word or two.

Now, I am not gonna lie. Cathy C. Hall has been known to sing along during a musical. But just in my own wee little head. Maybe in a very, very soft voice. And I at least sing the right words, the right tune. Once my new friend started his very unique singing, I couldn’t help laughing (ultra quietly, though). I looked at the Beneficent Mr. Hall and we nearly lost it. I mean, you know he was loud if Mr. Hall heard him–sitting on the other side as he was, and besides, Mr. Hall is practically deaf. At intermission, a lady sitting in the row behind him and three seats down, remarked on his wonderful singing.

“Oh, that wasn’t me,” he said. We all smiled. He genuinely didn’t realize he was singing.

If John Quinones expected me to fuss at this gentleman, he was sorely disappointed. Not that he wasn’t annoying; he most assuredly had his moments. But his joy! Oh my word, it was unbounded. Honestly, I have never seen anyone enjoy a show as much as this man. He was having so much fun, I didn’t dare rain on his parade. In fact, I might’ve even enjoyed the show more than I would have if I’d been sitting next to a more subdued patron of the arts.

As I walked out of that theater, I thought of the person who wrote the show’s book, and the lyricist, and the musical director and all the actors. How they brought so much joy to this man, and to the Beneficent Mr. Hall and me, and all the other patrons. And I really hoped that someday, somewhere, a girl or boy would hold my book in their hands and maybe read lines out loud, laugh and giggle, perhaps even get in trouble because they had a nose buried in my words instead of the Math problem on the white board. I really, really hoped that someone would experience unbridled joy, reading my book.

So I’m still smiling this morning, thinking of the show and the gentleman who sat next to me. What I did when faced with that outrageous situation was more or less appreciate the joy.

Tell me, what would you do?

Make New Friends

When Juniorette Hall was a Girl Scout, I learned that song, “Make New Friends.”

As I wrote “Making Friends Out of Blog Readers” over at the Muffin, the song kept going through my head (and going…and going…and going). The thing is, I’ve made a lot of friends because of the blog. Oh, they might’ve started out as readers, but many have ended up as friends, golden friends who’ve been a huge blessing and support through the ups and downs on this writing path.

And as a bonus, every once in a while I make a new blog friend and get prizes! Like a mug! Look how cute this mug is:

Mug1_100dpi

I won the mug from illustrator, Lori Keehner, who was over at Kathy Temean’s blog, sharing her art (and having a giveaway). If you write for children, you won’t want to miss Kathy’s blog, Writing and Illustrating. But she also shares non-children’s writing stuff, like the Peyton Prize, a no-fee essay contest. You’ll want to make friends with Kathy Temean (and follow her blog!).

And don’t forget Lori Keehner, too! She shared a lovely blog post about my mug (and I used her pic because honestly, she has mad photo skills). You’re going to want to see ALL of her delightful mugs and prints and pillows and t-shirts…well, it’s a regular smorgasbord of Lori Keehner awesome art over at her Society6 shop. I am not gonna lie; it was hard to choose which mug I liked best ’cause I liked ALL of ’em! But I have a thing for owls, and that little owl family was so cute…

So now I have the mug on my desk and I will fortify myself with a nice cuppa every day and hope that a little owlish wisdom will infuse my writing. Thank you, Lori!

And thank all of you who keep coming back to read blog posts and share your ups and downs, both the writing and non-writing ones. I so appreciate the friends I’ve made over the years, and if you want to know how you can make friends out of your blog readers, then zip over to the Muffin to read that post.

Oh! And sorry about that song that’s stuck in your head now.

Showing the Love For Authors You Love

logo-bookmarkWe have a Georgia Center for the Book in my home state and it happens to make its home base down the road from me, in the Decatur library.

I love the Georgia Center for the Book because…well, it’s a center. FOR THE BOOK.

Anyway, last week, they announced their 2015 books for adults and children, books that all Georgians should read. (And I’m not gonna lie. Folks outside of Georgia will probably love these books, too.) Many of the authors were there to receive awards and I was there because many of those authors are friends of mine and members of SCBWI. After the ceremony, they had a book-signing (they had a book sale, too) but I refrained from buying books. I have a wee bit of a problem, buying books, but still, I wanted to support these wonderful authors. What to do, what to do?

I have a couple strategies to support authors I love (besides buying the book), and I thought I’d pass ’em along to you:

  • Go to your local library and check to see if the book is on the shelf. If it’s not, request the book. When enough people request a book, a library takes notice (and maybe orders the book!).
  • If you do find the book at the library, check it out and read it. If you use social media, talk about the book. (And make sure you include the author’s name along with the book title so the author can see your support.) Authors often are uncomfortable with self-promotion, but when you do it, it’s golden!
  • Leave a book review on Goodreads or Amazon. It doesn’t have to be a 5-star review (in fact, too many five-star reviews is not a good thing) and it doesn’t have to be a mini-book. Short and sweet is just fine. You will make an author’s day, leaving a nice review.

How about you? What do you do when you love a book but can’t afford to buy it?

And you know what else? I’ll bet you have a Center for the Book in your home state. Why not take a little road trip and check out what they’re doing for the authors you know and love? (And if you’re an author in your state’s Center for the Book, let me know. I’d love to support ALL my author friends!)

The Mom, Snake, and Persistence Story

Many years afile000790259432go, when my mother taught ninth grade English (Yeah, it was so long ago that the subject was called English instead of Language Arts), she came home with a doozy of a story.

First, you need to know that Mom was kind of a tough teacher. And when I say “kind of”, I mean “a lot.” She didn’t put up with much foolishness in the classroom, but still, she was a good and fair teacher. That year’s class had been a challenging one due to one particular student. A student whom Mom had had more than one go-round with. I mean, this kid had been sent to the principal’s office more than once.

So you can imagine my mom’s surprise when, with just a day or two left in the school year, this kid brings her a taped up, shirt-sized gift box to say thanks. Mom choked out a thanks in return and much to the student’s disappointment, said, “I’ll open this later. We have work to do.”

She had no intention of opening that gift. The minute classes ended for the day, Mom marched down to the principal’s office and explained the situation. The principal took the box from her.

“What do you think it is, Ms. Crider?”

“I shook it,” said my mom. “And whatever’s in there moves back and forth. I think it might be…well, I think it’s a snake.”

“A snake!” The principal shook the box and sure enough, something moved back and forth. “Let’s take this box outside.”

The two of them went out to the parking lot, the whole time Mom fussing about this student and how he probably wanted to get back at her. Ninth graders, after all, don’t always think things through. Even so, she didn’t want him to get in any more trouble. “Let’s just open this box and be done with it,” said Mom.

So the principal carefully peeled back the tape and coaxed the lid almost off. “Stand back,” he said. And in one fell swoop he yanked off the lid and threw the box across the parking lot so the snake could slither away.

But it was not a snake.

It was a cupcake.

And a disgusting cupcake at that, after rolling across the parking lot and into the grass.

Oh my word, I laughed so hard, my sides hurt. Mom laughed pretty hard, too. The kid did get back at her, but not in any way he could’ve imagined.

I wrote a children’s story called, “Snake in the Box!” and it was partly based on that true story. It’s a favorite of mine, and though I submitted it to several kidlit magazines, it just didn’t sell.

Until a few days ago when I heard from an editor in China who wanted the story. I’d sent it to her almost a year ago, and honestly, I’d completely forgotten about “Snake in the Box.” But now, I suppose, Chinese students will get to read it.

I’m not so sure they’ll get the humor.

Friday’s Fun Find: Writing Tips for Writers (And Stickers!)

ben-franklin-quotesI am like the worst when it comes to Pinterest.

Actually, I’m not like the worst. I am the worst. But as I was checking the old inbox a second ago, I came across something from Pinterest along the lines of “Words of Wisdom.”

Now, I am a sucker for words of wisdom. I love words of wisdom. I have words of wisdom plastered on sticky notes and stuck all over my office. And on the walls of my bedroom (which is also the Beneficent Mr. Hall’s bedroom. So yeah, it’s becoming a bit of a problem). So of course, I had to take a few seconds to click on “Words of Wisdom.”

Know what I found? WRITING TIPS ON PINTEREST!!!

Thousands and thousands of writing tips. On Pinterest. That I could follow! And whenever a new tip (or words of writing wisdom) comes along–zip! It’s in the old inbox! (I found these stickers there–Printable Planner Stickers, and I thought, oh my word! STICKERS! For planning your writing week! Not to mention a couple pdf’s of writing freebies on the same website! Well, it was a veritable smorgasbord of writing words of wisdom, right?)

Anyway, now that I’m following this neat little Pinterest group, I’ll be in the know instantly! Or whenever I get around to checking my inbox stuff.

I’m sort of the worst when it comes to checking my inbox stuff.