A Tiny Library! (And Mom)

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Note Mom’s expression. I was doing something with Cathy-on-a-Stick.

Before I manage to get myself out of bed every morning, I’ll stall a bit. And this morning, I realized it was Mom’s birthday so I wished her a heavenly happy birthday. And then I laughed out loud because I could just hear my Mom saying, “Pfffft.” (Not that she was anti-birthday, but she didn’t have time for any wishing of “heavenly” birthday foolishness.)

I sure miss my mom, but I often hear her. Not out loud, y’all, just in my head. If I start writing about literally hearing my mom (or Dad or Mister Man or really, any dead person), then I hope someone will contact one of the Hall kidders and send them over to check on me.

Anyway, my mom had an opinion on just about everything and I’ll often hear one of those opinions at the strangest times. Like this morning, when I was reading about the latest Tiny Door news.

Y’all remember that I’m completely smitten with the Tiny Doors around the ATL. So now, the folks who do Tiny Doors are opening a Tiny Library.

What-can-go-on-a-bookWHAT??? I am beside myself! It’s a fundraiser where you can get your own teeny tiny book on a shelf in the teeny tiny library. So you can become an art patron for this fantabulous project as well as get a little promotion. Or maybe get a little creative. Or maybe just put your name on the spine of the teeny tiny book for the fun of it.

The point is, it’s a tiny book! In a tiny library! You can find out more about the library project at C4’s website. (And you might enjoy taking a look around C4, too. Lots of creative stuff!) And you don’t have to be from the ATL area to participate, either. So when I go to the Tiny Library to take a pic of my book, I’ll take a pic of yours.

Now, back to Mom and her opinion of this Tiny Library. Can you guess what I heard her say (still just in my head, y’all)?

a. What in the Sam Hill is this tiny library?

b. Well, isn’t that just darlin’.

c.  If I were you, I’d spend my hard-earned money on that.

d. For heaven’s sake, Cathy, that’s as silly as a heavenly birthday. Pfffffffft.

(Note that I often hear her voice. I don’t always listen.)

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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.

Writer Training: Write, Edit, Submit

3children_at_TybeeTomorrow is my mom’s birthday so I’m zipping through business and packing up cupcakes and clothes and cold cream (That’s what Mom asked for–I didn’t know you could still buy cold cream) for a little visit. But I don’t think I’m going to get my submission for Not Your Mother’s Book on Being a Mom finished before I go.

You remember the Not Your Mother’s Book series, right? There are so many of these titles–on moms, cats, golf, RV’s–well, it’s just a smorgasbord of subjects is what it is. If you can’t find a subject to write about then you’re not looking.

And if you’re not writing to submit, then you’re not going anywhere. So how about you pick a title and write a story? Whip out a first draft while you’re sitting in the van, waiting for baseball practice to end. Pen a story instead of watching TV. Make an outline in your head while you’re washing your hair.

Then edit and polish and submit. Make the time to work on it, little by little, till you have a story that’s good to go. It’s important that you write to submit because you’ll write better, knowing that someone else will be reading your work. Not the someone elses in your critique group (though a critique group can be tougher than an editor!). Not your loving mate. Not your friends. Not even your mother.

Send out your story to an editor. Because it’s the little steps along the way that train you up as a writer. Sort of like a mom training up a kid in the way she hopes that kid will go.

My mom did a pretty good job, training me up. Maybe I’ll finish that story before I go, after all.