Things Are Not Memories

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Mom and Dad in the kitchen

When my father died last year, the house at the beach was passed on to me and my brothers. At first, we planned to sell the house. But the more I thought of that house and all the happy memories I had there, the more I wanted to keep the house.

Fortunately, my oldest brother who lives in Savannah wanted to keep the house as well. So we did, and this past weekend, I met with my brother and sister-in-law to talk about the house. What we needed to fix, needed to replace, that sort of thing.

Now, left up to me, because as I may have mentioned before I’m a kind of laissez-faire person (which sounds ever so much better than lazy), everything looked just fine and dandy to me.  Mom and Dad’s furniture, Mom and Dad’s colors, Mom and Dad’s style. But it became apparent that my sister-in-law wanted to make a lot of changes. New furniture, new colors, new style.

I think she was a little nervous, too, trying to be sensitive–or maybe respectful–of my feelings. But here’s the thing: I understood her need to make the house a home for her and her family, so that she didn’t feel like she was living in some sort of shrine to my parents. And of course, she wanted me to be happy with the changes as well; mostly, she didn’t want to tread on my memories.

It’s a fact, I miss my mom and dad. But no amount of paint, or new appliances, or beachy style would make me forget my parents. They’ll always be with me in that house because they’re always in my heart.

My hairdresser–isn’t it weird how we tell our hairdressers everything?–said my attitude was unusual, that most people would have difficulty letting go. Maybe that’s so, but I was raised by a woman who was constantly throwing out or giving away my stuff. Sometimes, while I was still using it.

So maybe I learned a long time ago that things are not memories, or that letting go–whether it’s people I love, or stuff I love, or even words I love in a manuscript–helps me move on to joy rather than sadness.

What about you? Do you agree with my hairdresser? Or are you more like me? (Um….I did keep a few things, like my dad’s desk, and my mom’s secretary; I’m not a barbarian. And a few books and some pictures. Little things. A note on the fridge in my mom’s handwriting…

Okay. Well. I kept a lot of writing-related stuff. I think that’s perfectly okay, don’t you?)

 

Read-Aloud Adventures

Today is World Read Aloud Day–wheeee!wrad2017spotfinal

I might be a little Cathy-Come-Lately to all the fun activities that you can participate in (and the registration). But there’s still time to read aloud, even if it means grabbing a grown-up Junior Hall and reading his favorite book from long, long ago.

Reading aloud was one of my all-time favoritest activities with my kidders. “Read me a story, Mommy!” was music to my ears! And now that I think about it, each kid enjoyed reading aloud in his or her own unique way.

Oldest Junior Hall LOVED for me to read aloud! From the time he was an itty-bitty till…well, gosh, it must’ve been right before he started middle school because his little brother was in first grade then. If he heard me reading in Youngest Junior Hall’s room, he’d make a mad dash to sit on the end of the bed, just to listen. (I’m not gonna lie. I was a very entertaining reader.)

He loved funny books best of all, and though he had favorites, he craved variety. And so we’d head home from the library, arms aching from as many books as we could carry.

Juniorette Hall, now, she was independent from the get-go. She’d listen to Mom read aloud but as soon as she could read–and really, even before she could actually read, she memorized the text of her favorites and would insist on “reading”–she’d rather do it herself.

She loved ballerina books and mermaid books, and not surprisingly, she grew up to be a dancer. She still dances, and it’s very possible she thinks she’s a mermaid, too.

Youngest Junior Hall. Whew. He was a challenge. Getting that boy to sit still and listen to a story was not easy. He’d rather play baseball or build a fort or explore the woods or dig a hole. You get the picture. Fortunately, though, he LOVED dogs. And so once I found dog books–very short dog books–he’d allow a bit of reading aloud at the end of the day.

Eventually, he settled on one dog book. Every. Single. Day. I read the same book, something about counting dogs. You’d think I could remember the title, wouldn’t you? I guarantee that child remembers the title. Could probably recite the book by heart.

He’s coming by today so I’ll ask him. Maybe I’ll even find the book and we’ll read it aloud together. And I hope you’ll join me in celebrating World Read Aloud Day, maybe share one of your favorite read-aloud books or stories.

Oh, yes, please! I’d love to hear all about your read-aloud adventures. Tell me a story, friends!

Tooting My Horn After All

I’m over at The Muffin today, talking about how hard it is for writers to promote themselves.

Honestly, one of the reasons I like writing for a Korean publisher is that I don’t have to do any marketing. I mean, I guess if I went over to Korea, they’d expect me to do something. But here, even though I live in a community with a vibrant Korean population, it’s too costly to do book signings or other promotions.

For other projects, I’ll run a Tooting My Horn post and that’s a bit of promotion, right? All out marketing is a little more challenging for me because…well, you can read “Writer, Promote Thyself” and see if you struggle with the same promotion anxiety. And maybe share your thoughts on marketing?

201612_bigpulp_annual-793x1225But you know what all this talk about marketing has reminded me of? My story, Mary Beth’s Prophecy, appears in Big Pulp’s annual anthology. For cryin’ out loud, I almost forgot all about it–and I love that fun story! So yeah, why not check it out? Because it’s not just me…there are a TON of wonderful stories from 2016! (There! A bit of promotion for me and all those other writers!)

 

January Wrap Up

file00025755561I don’t have a lot of accountability these days.

My original and hard-working critique group broke up, my second critique group didn’t work for my schedule, writer friends moved away…even Mister Man, who, if we’re being perfectly honest refused to read any of my writing but would listen to me talk about it as long as there was food involved, up and left me. And so it’s pretty much up to me, what (or if)  I write.

Then I thought about you, dear writer friends. You can be my accountability! And then you can say, “Oh, yes, Cathy, that sounds fabulous!” Or, “Really, Cathy, you can do lots better than that.” Maybe even, “Sounds good to me, pass the garlic rolls.”

And so here I go:

I finished 30 ideas with Storystorm! It’s a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I did it.

I made a goal over at Goodreads to read 50 books this year, and for January, I read four books. (I didn’t make my reading goal last year but whee! It’s January and I’m on track. So far.)

I talked to my Lovely Agent about 2017 and the direction we could go. I have Stuff To Do; I haven’t quite started on that stuff yet.

I wrote up…let me count that again…yes, um…one, er, one story and sent it out into the world. It seemed like a big deal at the time, y’all.

I had an SCBWI writer’s workshop–awesome author Heather L. Montgomery presented–and it was well-attended and lots of fun! (P.S. She was here doing quite a few school visits and kids LOVE her, so if you want a science geek author for your school, contact Heather!) The first of the year is busy in my position at SCBWI; lots of organizing, lots of emails, lots of planning, but I got it all done. That’s probably why I didn’t get much writing done. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.

Oh! I finally finished my latest Darakwon book! Whew! I had started it back in the spring, I think, so yeah, it was beginning to be like The Song That Never Ends.

You know, I wasn’t feeling very accomplished twenty minutes ago, but I feel a bit better, now that I see my January Wrap Up. All things considered, right?

So how about you? How’s your January started? Brag a little, whine a little, and pass the garlic rolls. You’re with friends here!

 

Grabbing Ideas in Storystorm!

storystorm_participantEvery day when I read my Storystorm post, I think, “Really, Cathy, you should let your readers know about this little gem!” Now here it is, rolling into the end of the month, and I’m just now mentioning it. Better late than never, huh?

Storystorm, over at Tara Lazar’s blog, is what used to be PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) which ran every November. It’s still packed with great advice about generating story ideas, and yes, much of that advice comes from picture book authors. But that doesn’t mean you have to come up with picture book ideas.

I’ve got a couple of Middle Grade book ideas, a chapter book or two, stories, nonfiction stories, and yes, a handful of picture book sparks. What better way to start the year than with these idea-inspiring posts, and the–at last count–25 ideas that I can pluck out of my notebook and work on throughout the year!

So it may be too late to sign up for all the great prizes. But really, there’s a prize in every post. All you have to do is read ’em!