Back in the wheel

Hi everyone,

Thanks to all who have sent notes of support and encouragement while we’ve been shutting down our gift store. Between the original owner and us, the store had been on the scene well over half a century. Lots of good memories.

I’m about ready to focus on new stuff. I can finish the poetry article in a week or two. While at ILA a book opportunity came up that I’ve promised to start work on by mid-August. I’m waiting on word on a proposal that has been out to readers long enough to expect a response soon. And a third book possibility awaits focused attention, also within the next two weeks or so.

Those are all on the education side. In trade, a number of proposals are ready for committee decisions so each day I look for word from somebody. We all know how that goes, though.

For those who offered good advice for handling the #OURVOICES threat, I’ve added a more complete (and Peruvian-oriented) acknowledgements page, will state that a Peruvian artist should be a requirement, and have sent notes to two key Peruvian readers if they will send me a blurb for the back of the book. I’m about set to send the manuscript out again.

Down to the last day

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow morning at 8:00, movers will haul off to storage what’s left of Gamble’s — inventory, fixtures, furniture. We’ll spend today in the office, playing the game of what to keep, what to toss. Thirty-four years of records takes up a lot of room. It won’t be a happy experience, but it’s a necessary one.

Son Jeff is flying in tonight to spend a few days helping us get organized so we can find what we need in all the storage boxes and debate the pros and cons of having a garage sale one of these day. If we do, it will be a first for us. Wish us luck!

Starting tomorrow, I’ll reduce my schedule to seven hours a day and reduce the number of blog posts by quite a bit. Lots of changes going on around here!

What’s the answer?

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I got a taste of the modern twist on censorship, or whatever you choose to call it. My first middle grade novel, DOWNRIVER (about a girl in the Peruvian rain forest who wants to become a teacher), was rejected by an editor who said she liked the story but couldn’t consider it because I am not a Peruvian. She feared backlash from #OWNVOICES.

She’s got me there. I’m no more a Peruvian than Jean Craighead George is an Eskimo. So I did what writers do when writing about other parts of the world. In addition to going there, I studied the area and communicated with many people, including my Peruvian born daughter-in-law Jennifer and a friend of hers who lives and teaches in Peru. I had my story reviewed by Peruvians who know the area. One was a riverboat guide along the river in my story. They read the manuscript and suggested spots that needed to be changed. I made the changes. Did the readers like the story? Very much. Said they were pleased that I was writing such an inspiring story about that area. Does it matter? Nope. It doesn’t matter what kind of writer I am. It only matters that I’m not a native of the country I’m writing about.

Taking this a step farther, if we can’t write about folks who look or act or think differently than we do, we’re not as likely to study them, to read about them, to try to walk in their shoes, to care about them. Doesn’t this form of censorship further divide us? I’m confused and disappointed.

Getting ready to write

Hi everyone,

I’ve been reading articles and reports listed as references at the back of other articles and reports. If you haven’t tried it lately, I recommend it as a way to connect with the education community regarding how they use our work to teach students.

“Reading poems in elementary school classrooms.” Charles A. Elster (2002), Research in the Teaching of English.

“Improving oral reading fluency through Readers Theatre.” Mraz, Caldwell, Beisley, Sargent, and Rupley (2013), Reading Horizons.

“Teaching children to read: an evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction.” National Reading Panel (2000).

Every list leads to more lists. I’m preparing for the article I’m writing for Missouri Reader’s poetry-themed winter issue. As I told our workshop audience at ILA, sometimes getting ready to write takes longer than the writing does. But I love this part!

Time for a change

Hi everyone,

I have three days remaining in my traditional work schedule of 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. After this Friday, it will be 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Afternoons will be reserved to be with Sandy, unless she has something else to do. Then, of course, I’ll sneak write. Since I sold the block company in 2008, I’ve had a wonderful, selfish routine meant to satisfy my lifelong need to write full time. It has been a great ten years.

I’m not complaining. Anyone with a writing schedule of seven hours per day has no right to whine. How we’ll spend afternoons will be an adventure, but it will be a good one.

I mentioned recently that I intend to cut back on my blogs as part of my new schedule. We’ll see how that works out. This blog has been a habit since 2009 so it may be harder than expected to trim back to once or twice week.

I love each day as a writer, friend, and lover. I’m lucky and I know it.