Thanksgiving

We have a tradition for many years of having family at our house for thanksgiving. We started this when my youngest child was three. She is now 22. Some years we have had about 30 people, most years somewhere between 14-20. I spend days getting everything ready and trying to make is as memorable as I can. I do miss the years all my kids lived at home and we worked together as a family preparing the house and food. Yet, there is something very precious about creating such an important memory for myself and especially for those I love, even if a lot of it is by myself nowadays. Nothing is ever perfect. Something is messed up in the cooking stage or cold instead of hot as it should be. The right words are not always said to each other and sometimes someone might even say something hurtful.  Yet, every imperfect year we come together to celebrate and eat and play, and to give thanks for all that we have, together. As tired as I am this evening after everyone is gone, I am thankful it is in my home. 

 

New England Writers From the Past

Mark Twain's House

Mark Twain's House

My husband and I spent a few days in New England this past week and had the joy of visiting two old homes of two famous writers. They both lived in Hartford, Connecticut and were actually next door neighbors. We went through Mark Twain's house the day we flew in to Hartford and went through Harriet Beecher Stowe's home the day we left. I'm glad we saw them different days because it gave me a chance to let each experience simmer in my thoughts all to itself for awhile. 

The tour guides for Mark Twain's house are actors who portray people who lived in his home. They stay completely in character while guiding visitors through each elaborate, gorgeous room. Our guide was actually the butler, who was also Twain's close friend. 

Harriet Beecher Stowe's home is still in restoration progress but filled with the most interesting info about her. In fact, I came home and looked up more about her already. I have never actually read Uncle Tom's cabin, but I hope to find the time.

 

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The butler

 

 

 

Loving Vincent

An art teacher friend of mine just shared with me about this upcoming film titled Loving Vincent. It looks incredible! It is the first full feature oil painted film. Van Gogh's paintings literally come to life! As I understand it, the story revolves around the mystery of his death. This is right down my alley, mystery and paintings..what more could you want. It looks like the movie, at least for now, is only showing at art theaters. I very much hope I can manage to see it.  Amazing!

Writing and Illustration Groups

I've been able to attend several different writing groups this week and it has been a blast. First was the North Texas SCBWI convention in Addison, Texas and I am so glad I was able to attend this year. Agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton from Andrea Brown Agency, Editor, Brett Duquette from Sterling Publishing, Editor Callie Metler-Smith from Clear Fork Media, and Agent Melissa Edwards from Stonesong were the  main speakers. I also heard Kayla Olsen speak, author of Sandcastle Empire. She shared her long journey to publication which was very interesting and heartfelt.

The one speaker that especially stood out for me was Brett Duquette. He emphasized the enjoyment of the writing process. He shared about his mom who wrote with 5 friends every week for years because she loved writing, not with any real intention of ever being published. He also had this great advice for rewriting. He suggested going though and editing one thing at a time. For instance, the first go through might be just looking at the verbs and making sure they are all strong. The next time through might be for the purpose of looking at character development. Next time? Maybe look at sentence structure and patterns. 

I also attended a local writing group this week at the library. The group meets once a month and each person's writing is for a different genre. At first, I thought it might not be that beneficial because the others were not writing for children. I loved the diversity, though, and learned from the experience. They meet once a month and I'm hoping to make it again next month.

Another group focusing a lot on writing is a group called WILD, Women in Leadership Development. They meet once a week at my church for six weeks and it has been amazing. It also involves standing and speaking. Ugh! I love speaking to children, but it is definitely a challenge for me to do that with adults. They are wonderful "cheer you on " people so that does make it a little easier.

Attending these groups, hearing speakers, and meeting other writers and illustrators has always helped with honing my craft but this week it has done more. It has forced me to dig deep and find my purpose for writing and reassessing my goals. I feel like I've discovered the heart of my writing and illustration buried under a lot of stuff. I don't write or paint to be published. I write and illustrate to touch people, especially children.  It is about the people. At this point, I have not been published by a large company and maybe I never will. I have reached children through the books I've written and illustrated and though it is not huge numbers, each child is significant, each one valuable and precious. Each one is worthy of doing the very best work that I can. Inspiring, teaching, touching the heart is my goal. We are only on this earth for a little while. I want to make sure I am focused on the real deal.

 

Dad

It has been awhile since my last post.  My siblings and I were assisting my mom with the care of my dad.  He died a week and a half ago at age 91.  We were all there with him and all his grandchildren got to see him in the last few weeks of his life.  Still recovering and helping my mom pull life back together, we are very thankful for all the good amidst the difficult time seeing my dad with dementia the last several years and many agonizing days watching him slowly stop eating. I love my Dad immensely and so thankful for the promise of being with him again one day. 

Now it is time to pick up my projects and paints as I am surrounded by all the beautiful woodworking items he made.  He was an artist too although he did not think of himself as such. We actually worked together on ornaments and other items. 

Today after church I drove out in the country through several small towns looking at green hills and goats and horses. I watched Miss Potter, the movie about Beatrix Potter after I got back.  It was so beautiful and just what I needed to start the week.  

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