THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Being Accountable For Your Accountability

 

 
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The saying goes that kids will be kids, especially teenagers, no matter which generation of youngsters we might be talking about.

With my shy, unassuming nature, I was by no means a rebel back in my own teenager years, but there was one time I stepped outside the boundaries of convention, leaving me with a question still unanswered even today…

One of the first things I did, once I moved out of my parent’s house and into a boarding house room 50 miles away, was to find the nearest movie theater. I had just turned 18 and up to that point in my life I’d only been to one picture show.

I was lucky enough to find one on the bus line not far from where I lived and the 50 cent ticket price for a Saturday matinee was within this poor girl’s budget.

But the concessions were not.

Being the resourceful gal that I was, I decided to pack some fried chicken and a drink to take with me before heading out. It was Halloween and I wanted to watch a scary movie, but coming from a very secluded childhood, let’s just say it was a HUGE culture shock once the movie began…

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW

It was an enlightening education both to my naïve young mind as well as some lessons learned on social interaction and audience participation.

I sat there in stunned silence by the exit door, mindlessly nibbling on the food I’d brought with me, as I watched the chaos between screen and movie goers unfold in front of me.

It wasn’t until I’d left the theater and was safely back on the bus for the trip home when I realized something.

I’d left my trash on the seat next to me.

My mother had always taught me to be ACCOUNTABLE for myself and I had rudely forgotten to clean up. But instead of castrating myself for bad manners, all I could was laugh.

Imagine the poor employee who uncovered what would appear to be some kind of ANIMAL SACRIFICE in the back row of a darkened movie theater.

I bet that was one Halloween they would never forget!

Remember, guys, we are ACCOUNTABLE for every decision we make in our writing careers. The characters we create, the worlds we build, even the submissions we send out. If we are at the beginning of our publishing paths, we’ll probably make more mistakes than we’d care to admit. If we’re established writers, we have an obligation to our readers, agents, publishers, etc. to provide the most polished work we can give them. So whenever you feel like there is no rhyme or reason to your writing day, just remember one thing…

Be ACCOUNTABLE.

PLAN your next move.

TRACK your journey.

SUCCEED by remembering all the victories, big and small, along the way.
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We can do this! YOU can do this!

I hope you have an AWESOME day today cuz you deserve it!

 

BOOK NOOK REVIEW: Kevin Henkes

 

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Title: Waiting
Author/Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
Publisherr: Green Willow Books
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

Look at the owl
and the pig
and the bear
and the puppy
and the rabbit
What do you think they’re waiting for?
A visitor?
A surprise?

 

Why you should read it:

 

I‘m drawn to picture books with simply drawn illustrations showcasing a deeply thought out story line. This masterfully written story by author/illustrator Kevin Henkes reminds me of THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein; one of my favorite picture books of all time.

I can’t help but be drawn to the facial expressions of everyone waiting on the window sill for different things. I was even touched by the artwork when I read, “Once a visitor arrived from far away. He stayed for awhile, then he left and never returned.”

This beautiful book helps teach patience to those of us destined to have to wait. And for young and old alike, THIS lovely book was definitely worth the wait!

 
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

 
**Rating scale**

 
5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take it or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: One By One

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Sarah pushed sweaty strands of hair out of her face as she gathered up another scoop of wet cement. This was turning out to be much harder than she expected .  Sarah picked up the lantern and moved to a new spot. As she worked, her mind drifted back to earlier that evening.

Marcus came in from the fields earlier than usual. Supper wasn’t on the table which set him off. First was the rolling eyes when she set the beans and cornbread in front of him.

“Beans again?” Marcus stated the obvious, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

“I’m sorry,” Sarah whispered.

Next came the harsh words.

“You’re always sorry. Don’t you realize I work hard every day for the food you put on my table? I think I deserve better than beans every night!” 

Sarah had heard it all before. But how was she supposed to provide better when all he gave her was a few coins each week from the money pouch tucked under his night shirt? The more he grumbled about those beans, the stronger her anger grew until it burned white hot.

She didn’t remember reaching for the cast iron skillet until she opened her eyes and saw it in her trembling hands. But Sara knew she’d never forget the look of surprise on his face just before Marcus slid to the floor. Years of hard work gave her the strength to drag his lifeless body down to the basement. There she slowly mixed the cement and one by one, stacked layers of brick to hide what she had done.

Maybe she could just say he’d finally left her. Neighbors had seen the occasional bruise makeup couldn’t completely hide, so they might believe her. All she had to do was finish the new wall…brick by brick…one by one…

Now it’s your turn! Will Sarah be able to finish building her wall down in the basement? Will she manage to get away with murder? Add to the story or start one of your own on the comments below…

 

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donna

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

 

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: On A Book Bender

 

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Summer always reminds me of the public library in my hometown…

Summer meant freedom from tests and scholarly expectations.

Summer meant a chance to occasionally escape from my mother’s watchful eye and head over to the public library a few blocks from my childhood home. My sister and I would make a morning of it. Grabbing our bikes and heading out in the bright bayou sunlight. We both were voracious readers and every summer we were some of the first kids on our block to sign up for the summer reading program.

I learned to read when I was about four years old. Once the librarian realized I was very comfortable making my way around the written word, she no longer restricted me to “baby books”, and gave me free rein to explore the entire library. Every summer from age five until I left home at seventeen, my goal was to read at least one hundred books before I went back to school.

You read right.

ONE HUNDRED BOOKS.

Even at age five, I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and read everything I could get my hands on.

Picture books

Chapter books.

Non-fiction books, although back then the children’s section didn’t have the wonderful diversity kids can find nowadays.

And, yes, even encyclopedias. I read them all because I even enjoyed researching random topics that crossed my young mind.

I would stuff as many of my book treasures into my bike’s basket as I could and race home to sneak into my bedroom to start on those imaginative journeys before my mother would drag me outside to work in the garden, or trim the hedges, or cut the grass, or any number of endless jobs she came up with to occupy my summer daylight hours.

I read about Black Beauty and Huckleberry Finn…about Horton and the Whos or the Lorax or even what happened on Mulberry Street. The first summer I was allowed a library card, I literally read every available book for my age and then some. The librarian started picking out different books I might like and I thought that building was the most magical place on earth (Sorry Disney!).

These days I still read hundreds of children’s books each year. Especially during the summer when I work with 40-50 children ages 4-12 years old each day at my Taekwondo school during our summer camp. Many of these children are either struggling readers, come from families where parents don’t enjoy reading so they never fostered a love of reading in their own children, or simply too young to even grasp the art of reading yet. 

So we read together. 

Usually over two hundred books a summer.

TWO HUNDRED BOOKS.

My younger goal driven ME would be so proud of today’s ME…

 

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donna

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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***This is PART THREE of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. Make sure to come back next week and find out more insider secrets about the writing industry!***

 

5 Common Myths About Getting Published, Part Three

by Donna L Martin

 

The myths I’ve been uncovering are nothing new and you’ve probably already heard some of them before but it is always nice to be reminded of what is true and what might not be on the path to publication. When I started getting more serious about my writing back in 2010 I felt a bit overwhelmed with everything I had to quickly learn to improve my writing. Then I had to figure out the difference between agents and publishers as well as trying to determine just what they were looking for. By the time someone starting asking me what social media sites I was on and how many followers I had I wanted to scream! If you’ve ever felt like that just take a moment, take a breath, and realize you are not alone. While I was sorting everything out I ran across maybe one of the biggest myths of all…

 

MYTH #3. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HUGE PLATFORM BEFORE YOU CAN BECOME AN AUTHOR

 

While it’s true an agent or publisher will check to see if you have a website or blog and maybe even a Twitter or Facebook page, they know it takes time to build an “author platform”. Rushing to get as many followers as you can but having nothing to give them in return will only result in leaving a bad impression with your potential readers. There is a general rule of 80/20 when it comes to social networking where you are engaged with others 80% of the time and only promoting yourself or your books 20% of the time. It will also depend on which site you are using as to what you might offer your audience.

Here is a list of all the sites I currently participate in…some sporadically and some on a more day to day basis but all are set up to send me prompts of new posts I might need to be aware of. Probably while I sift through at least two to three hundred emails per day…;~)

WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com)…this is where my own blog, STORY CATCHER PUBLISHING (http://www.storycatcherpublishing.com) comes from. I switched from Blogger to WordPress last year for one simple reason…it offered me more support and expansion possibilities than any other site I had researched. There are advantages and disadvantages to any one of the sites so take the time to do your research to find which one is best for you. Here are some other free blog sites…

Blogger.com

Penzu.com

Squarespace.com

Tumblr.com

Webs.com

Weebly.com

Wix.com

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) …I have a personal account and a “fan page” listed under STORY CATCHER PUBLISHING (http://www.facebook.com/Donasdays). My personal account is for anything that interests me and the fan page is for my blog posts, videos or pictures I think my readers might enjoy, and anything writerly. I am also a member of about twenty Facebook communities which include wrters, readers, and people sharing other interests I have and I comment on all of those as often as I can…usually 3 to 4 times a week or more.

LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/story-catcher-publishing-b4a87a39/)  …I use this site for more professional contacts. I have a lot of authors, agents, editors, publishers, librarians, etc. on this account who want to connect with me. I also list my blog posts here.

Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/donasdays/) …I really enjoy fooling around with my Pinterest account and currently have many boards for people to choose from. It’s another place I can post my books, blog posts, and other things writerly as well as giving a chance to see some of my other interests.

Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18279692.Donna_L_Martin). My Goodreads account is full of books I’ve read over the years and is another place where my own books will be listed. I read the discussions but only comment occasionally.

Amazon (www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KA7DS02) …I have an account set up on Amazon through Author Central. It has links to my website and lists all my books.

Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/donasdays)…I list my blog posts, my books, share other writerly posts, and just anything that might interest me.

Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/martindonnal/) …this is my newest account and I’m just learning my way around it.

Some of these social sites I’ve used for years and others for just a couple of months. Yes, social networking takes time. Yes, it requires a lot of participation and some may think it only as a necessary evil. I’m very much a online people person, so I enjoy connecting with others. I love learning new things and participation in these sites give me the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of mindsets as well as other cultures.

From a business viewpoint it expands my platform. I have around 12,000 followers over the various platforms but it didn’t start out that way. While that is HUGE for me, in the publishing world I am still a mere speck on the social networking radar but that’s okay.

I may be tiny but I’m mighty and I’m continuing to get better at this whole social media thing so who knows what might happen over the next year? New authors don’t need to spread themselves so thin. Pick a site or two and get to know the people who hang out there. Comment, repost, engage…be present and allow them to see another part of you.

What social networking sites do YOU use? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments…

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Life’s A Balancing Act

 

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Ever since I was a baby, I struggled with balance.

Taking my first steps.

Learning to ride a bike.

Now I try to balance three full time careers… Center Manager of my Taekwondo school, published author, and small press publisher of Story Catcher Publishing.

Some days it’s a piece of cake and other times I just want to crawl under my bed and hide. But no matter how challenging my life can get, it’ll never be as rough as the day I lost my balance in fifth grade…

I was an extreme introvert and always lived just outside any social circle existing in my small town elementary school. I was too smart for the dumb kids, too awkward for cool kids, and too straight for the druggies. But I desperately wanted to fit in, so I finally decided my best chance to fit in somewhere would be to dress like the cool kids. The only problem is, my family was dirt poor. The only item I owned that could possibly capture their attention was a super cool pair of white wedge sandals.

The shoes had a three inch wedge under the toes and a five inch wedge under the heel. When I put them on, I stood well over six feet tall…in the fifth grade…and imagined I looked like a graceful swan strutting around in those high heels.

In reality I looked more like a drunken flamingo and balanced like one as well.

I remember walking past some cute boys one day. I thought I would sashay gracefully past them and go around the corner of the school building. I don’t know if maybe it was the higher altitude, being on those stilts, but just as I got in front of them and tried to turn the corner, it happened.

I lost my balance and fell off my shoes.

Yep, you read right.

Fell. Off. My. Shoes.

In front of those cute boys.

Who immediately split a gut laughing as I struggled to get back on my stilts and slink away in mortification.

I still struggle with balance these days as a writer. Deadlines, Revisions. Even the simple act of finding enough time to work on new projects. But I’ve learned a thing or two since losing my balance back in fifth grade:

1. It’s not the falling down that gets you. It’s the staying down… so get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

2. Losing your balance won’t kill you. Might bruise your ego but you’ll live. All you need to do is take a moment to catch your breath and refocus your efforts on reaching your particular goals.

3. Learning to balance the different parts of your life or career takes time. Time that is important for you to make time for or all the various things in your life will never balance themselves out.

The days are long gone where I challenge my poor feet to walking on wedges. Now I look forward to the day when I can learn to balance my checkbook…;~)

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

 

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Peter Carnavas

 

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Title: Jessica’s Box
Author/Illustrator: Peter Carnavas
Publisher: Kane Miller
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

The first day of school can be scary. New teachers. New routines. Jessica wonders if she will meet any new friends and brings a mysterious box to school just to make sure she does. Everyone begins to wonder just what’s inside?

 

Why you should read it:

 

This delightful picture book comes from down under, but every child around the world can deal with the same first-day jitters.

I like how Jessica is encouraged by her family to solve her problem on her own. Author/Illustrator Peter Carnavas’ wonderful drawings take the reader on a journey through Jessica’s school adventure as she tries and tries to make some new friends. It’s only when she believes she’s destined to be alone that a special friendship comes along.

The fact Jessica has a disability will help children realize everyone needs a friend, no matter their situation. This author hides a valuable lesson inside an adorable story. A good addition to any home library.

 
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

 
**Rating scale**

 
5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take it or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!